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See also: Ragamuffin




From the Middle English Ragamuffyn. According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: A muffin is a poor thing of a creature, a 'regular muff'; so that a ragamuffin is a sorry creature in rags.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹæɡəˌmʌfɪn/
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ragamuffin (plural ragamuffins)

  1. A dirty, shabbily-clothed child; an urchin.
  2. A breed of domestic cat which is an offshoot from the Ragdoll.

Usage notesEdit

Currently this word is slang, often (but not always) used either for anachronistic effect or as dialogue in historical fiction.


1597 1868 1877 1882 1906 1916 1984
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  • 1597William Shakespeare, 1 Hen IV v 3
    I have led my ragamuffins where they are peppered: there's not three of my hundred and fifty left alive; and they are for the town's end, to beg during life. (Note: Quartos 1-5 "rag of Muffins" Quartos 6-8 "rag of Muffians")
  • 1868Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Ch. 47
    “But may I inquire how you intend to support the establishment? If all the pupils are little ragamuffins, I’m afraid your crop won’t be profitable in a worldly sense, Mr. Bhaer.”
  • 1877Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
    "They called her a little `blue' ragamuffin, father," said Harry, who ran in looking very angry; "but I have given it to them; they won't insult my sister again.
  • 1882Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper, Ch. 12
    'Yes, he is mine—I took him, a homeless little ragamuffin, but I saw what was in him, and I said his name would be heard some day—behold him, observe him—was I right?'
  • 1906, Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, Chapter 18
    After walking a ways, Jurgis met a little ragamuffin whom he hailed: "Hey, sonny!"
  • 1916John Buchan, Greenmantle, Ch. 15
    He had found out the house of Frau von Einem without much trouble, and had performed with his ragamuffins in the servants' quarters.
  • 1984Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Ch. 21
    "And a boy was sitting on the raft."
"Among the rabbits in waistcoats and the owls and the reindeer."
"Precisely there. A boy of the cheery gypsy ragamuffin variety."