One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Derogatory. A class or category of people conceived of as forming a mob; = "rabble". Frequently with of. Also in figurative context and extended use. Now rare.
2A disorderly, disorganized, or unruly crowd; = "rabble". Frequently with of. Now chiefly literal or Scottish and English regional (northern).
3With the. The socially inferior, uncouth, or disorderly element of the populace or of a particular group or body of people; also without article.
4Confusion, disturbance, or disorder such as that caused by a rabble or unruly crowd; riotous conduct; uproar.
5A disorderly or disorganized collection; = "rabble" 4b. Frequently with of. In later use chiefly poetic and rare.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Richard Taverner (?1505–1575), translator and evangelical reformer. From rabble + -ment.
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