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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A scrap of cloth.
  • n. A piece of cloth used for cleaning, washing, or dusting.
  • n. Threadbare or tattered clothing.
  • n. Cloth converted to pulp for making paper.
  • n. A scrap; a fragment.
  • n. Slang A newspaper, especially one specializing in sensationalism or gossip.
  • n. The stringy central portion and membranous walls of a citrus fruit.
  • idiom on the rag Vulgar Slang Menstruating.
  • idiom on the rag Vulgar Slang Irritable; grouchy.
  • transitive v. Slang To tease or taunt. See Synonyms at banter.
  • transitive v. Slang To berate; scold.
  • transitive v. Chiefly British To play a joke on.
  • transitive v. Sports In ice hockey, to maintain possession of (the puck) by outmaneuvering opposing players, especially so as to kill a penalty.
  • n. Chiefly British A practical joke; a prank.
  • n. A roofing slate with one rough surface.
  • n. Chiefly British A coarsely textured rock.
  • transitive v. To compose or play (a piece) in ragtime.
  • n. A piece written in ragtime.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A coarse kind of rock, somewhat cellular in texture; ragstone.
  • v. To break (ore) into lumps for sorting.
  • v. To cut or dress roughly, as a grindstone.
  • n. Tattered clothes.
  • n. A piece of old cloth; a tattered piece of cloth; a shred, a tatter.
  • n. A shabby, beggarly fellow; a ragamuffin.
  • n. A ragged edge.
  • n. A sail, or any piece of canvas.
  • n. A newspaper, magazine.
  • n. this sense?) (poker slang) A card that appears to help no one.
  • n. this sense?) (poker slang) A low card.
  • v. To scold or rail at; to rate; to tease; to torment; to banter.
  • v. To drive a car or another vehicle in a hard, fast or unsympathetic manner.
  • v. To tease or torment, especially at a university; to bully, to haze.
  • n. A prank or practical joke.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A piece of cloth torn off; a tattered piece of cloth; a shred; a tatter; a fragment.
  • n. Hence, mean or tattered attire; worn-out dress.
  • n. A shabby, beggarly fellow; a ragamuffin.
  • n. A coarse kind of rock, somewhat cellular in texture.
  • n. A ragged edge.
  • n. A sail, or any piece of canvas.
  • intransitive v. To become tattered.
  • transitive v. To scold or rail at; to rate; to tease; to torment; to banter.
  • transitive v. To break (ore) into lumps for sorting.
  • transitive v. To cut or dress roughly, as a grindstone.
  • transitive v. To play or compose (a piece, melody, etc.) in syncopated time.
  • transitive v. To dance to ragtime music, esp. in some manner considered indecorous.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A sharp or jagged fragment rising from a surface or edge: as, a rag on a metal plate; hence, a jagged face of rock; a rocky headland; a cliff; a crag.
  • n. A rock having or weathering with a rough irregular surface.
  • n. In botany:
  • n. A lichen, Sticta pulmonaria (see hazel-crottles).
  • n. Another lichen, Parmelia saxatilis (stone-rag).
  • n. A catkin of the hazel, or of the willow, Salix caprea. Also raw.
  • n. A torn, worn, or formless fragment or shred of cloth; a comparatively worthless piece of any textile fabric, either wholly or partly detached from its connection by violence or abrasion: as, his coat was in rags; cotton and linen rags are used to make paper, and woolen rags to make shoddy.
  • n. A worn, torn, or mean garment; in the plural, shabby or worn-out clothes, showing rents and patches.
  • n. Any separate fragment or shred of cloth, or of something like or likened to it: often applied disparagingly or playfully to a handkerchief, a flag or banner, a sail, the curtain of a theater, a newspaper, etc.
  • n. Figuratively, a severed fragment; a remnant; a scrap; a bit.
  • n. A base, beggarly person; a ragamuffin; a tatterdemalion.
  • n. A farthing.
  • n. A herd of colts.
  • n. In type-founding, the bur or rough edge left on imperfectly finished type.
  • Made of or with rags; formed from or consisting of refuse pieces or fragments of cloth: as, rag pulp for paper-making; a rag carpet.
  • In U. S. political slang, the paper currency of the government; greenback money: so called with reference to the contention of the Greenback party, before and after the resumption of specie payments in 1879, in favor of making such money a full legal tender for the national debt and all other purposes.
  • To become ragged; fray: with out.
  • To dress; deck one's self: in the phrase to rag out, to dress in one's best.
  • To make ragged; abrade; give a ragged appearance to, as in the rough-dressing of the face of a grindstone.
  • In mining, to separate by ragging or with the aid of the ragging-hammer. See ragging, 2.
  • To banter; badger; rail at; irritate; torment. Compare bullyrag.
  • n. A drizzling rain.
  • n. An abbreviation of raginee.
  • n. In botany: The pithy axis and the membranes separating the sections of the orange and other citrus fruits.
  • n. A coat; a tunic: army slang in India in the last century; still used. Also raggie (which see).
  • n. In Oxford University, a noisy, disorderly outbreak, in violation of established regulations: originally peculiar to English university life.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. censure severely or angrily
  • n. newspaper with half-size pages
  • v. treat cruelly
  • v. cause annoyance in; disturb, especially by minor irritations
  • v. play in ragtime
  • n. a boisterous practical joke (especially by college students)
  • n. a week at British universities during which side-shows and processions of floats are organized to raise money for charities
  • n. a small piece of cloth or paper
  • v. harass with persistent criticism or carping
  • n. music with a syncopated melody (usually for the piano)
  • v. break into lumps before sorting


Middle English ragge, from Old English *ragg, from Old Norse *rögg, woven tuft of wool.
Origin unknown.
Perhaps from ragged.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Origin uncertain; perhaps the same word as Etymology 2, below. (Wiktionary)
From Old Norse rǫgg ("tuft, shagginess"). Cognate with Swedish ragg. (Wiktionary)
Origin uncertain. (Wiktionary)
Perhaps from ragged. Compare later ragtime. (Wiktionary)



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  • Song quotation on slutty.

    August 20, 2009

  • "In typography, “rag” refers to the irregular or uneven vertical margin of a block of type. Usually it’s the right margin that’s ragged (as in the commonly seen flush left/rag right setting), but either or both margins can be ragged." (

    February 26, 2009

  • "1.Music. To play or compose (a piece, melody, etc.) in syncopated time. Colloq. 2. To dance to ragtime music;--often used with an implication of indecorum. Colloq. or Slang."

    December 14, 2006