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From Middle English ribald, from Old French ribaud, ribauld (rogue, scoundrel) ( > English ribaud), from Old French riber (to be licentious), from Frankish *rīban (to copulate, be in heat, literally to rub), from Proto-Germanic *wrībaną (to turn, twist, writhe), from Proto-Indo-European *werp-, *werb- (to turn, twist) + Old French -aud, from Frankish *-wald.

Related to Old High German rīban (to rub), German reiben (to rub), Dutch wrijven (to rub). Compare also Old High German hrība (prostitute). See also English wrap.



ribald (comparative more ribald, superlative most ribald)

  1. Coarsely, vulgarly, or lewdly amusing; referring to sexual matters in a rude or irreverent way.
    • 1693, Thomas Urquhart and Peter Anthony Motteux (Trans.), François Rabelais' Gargantua an Pantagruel, The Third Book, Chapter XXVII:
      [L]et no zealous Christian trust the rogue,—the filthy ribald rascal is a liar.
    • 1875, May 15, Anonymous, "Mr. Carl Schurz and the Democratic Party", Harper's Weekly:
      But when he died the "Reform Democracy" instinctively returned to its vomit of ribald insult.
    • 1888, Ambrose Pierce, "A Fruitless Assignment", Can Such Things Be? (Pub. 1893):[1]
      [T]he curious crowd had collected in the street [] , with here and there a scoffer uttering his incredulity and courage with scornful remarks or ribald cries.
    • 1997 Chuck Eddy, The Accidental Evolution of Rock 'n' roll: A Misguided Tour Through Popular Music (p.22)
      Anyway up against Reba McEntire, '60s-rock-bred big city escapee K.T. Oslin comes off both more ribald ("Younger Men") and prouder of the bras and bridges she used to burn ("'8s Ladies") in her best country hits.
    • 2016 February 23, Robbie Collin, “Grimsby review: ' Sacha Baron Cohen's vital, venomous action movie'”, in The Daily Telegraph (London):
      Baron Cohen turns his attentions back towards England, satirising the Establishment’s contempt for what Nobby himself proudly calls “scum” with ribald and corrosive glee.



ribald (plural ribalds)

  1. An individual who is filthy or vulgar in nature.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Originally published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 24, 1888, and later included in Can Such Things Be? and Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories.

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