Main definitions of rag in English

: rag1rag2rag3rag4rag5

rag1

noun

  • 1A piece of old cloth, especially one torn from a larger piece, used typically for cleaning things.

    ‘he wiped his hands on an oily rag’
    [mass noun] ‘a piece of rag’
    • ‘Christie kept her eyes fixed on the girl as she wiped her hands clean on a rag and straightened her apron, finally coming out of the kitchen into the hall.’
    • ‘Quickly, he ran to grab some rags to clean up, shaking his head - he knew he'd ruined his chance.’
    • ‘Though it follows no known pattern of quiltmaking, and though it is made of bits and pieces of worthless rags, it is obviously the work of a person of powerful imagination and deep spiritual feeling.’
    • ‘He searches through drawers and finds a rag to clean the kit.’
    • ‘‘Here, let me help you,’ he picked a rag and started cleaning Jonas' closet doors.’
    • ‘The woman strode quickly to the tables, scooped up a few fallen petals, and dusted the throne with a clean rag, though it was already sparkling magnificence.’
    • ‘He leaned down to gather clean water in the rag for rinsing, running the cloth over the same areas.’
    • ‘Finally, polish the tiles with soapy water and a rag or sponge to remove the dried-on film of grout.’
    • ‘Then he disassembled the rifle and cleaned it with rags and a long, thin brush.’
    • ‘Presently she came back with a kettle of water still warm from the noon fire and a bundle of clean rags.’
    • ‘Waving pieces of wing fabric and burning oily rags in a bucket, the men enthusiastically entered into this exercise, mindful that it might save them from another night at sea.’
    • ‘The material looked to be nothing more than a small piece of an old rag or the corner of an old handkerchief.’
    • ‘It hadn't taken Lee long to come back with a clean wet cloth before the cold rag was pressed to Kris' scalp.’
    • ‘Then she turns back around and hands me a rag, ‘Go clean off the tables then get out of here.’’
    • ‘Pure-white, 100-percent cotton rags are the choice of professional painters.’
    • ‘Before she could even get to the rags to start cleaning, she collapsed on the floor.’
    • ‘There should be a clean rag under my pillow on the cot.’
    • ‘She hurried over to one of the cabinets, not waiting for an answer, and pulled out a bottle of witch hazel and two clean rags.’
    • ‘Even pieces of rags were shoved into the gaps peeping through the corners of its locked door.’
    • ‘Forty-five years ago, he duked it out with his father over whether to expand into uniforms from the business of reclaiming and cleaning industrial rags.’
    piece of cloth, bit of cloth, fragment of cloth, scrap of cloth, cloth
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Old or tattered clothes.
      ‘street urchins dressed in rags’
      • ‘The ‘paint’ consisted of about ten people dressed in multicloured rags who either held on or let go of the roller as the effect required.’
      • ‘There's one guy who gets on the tube with an accordion, while his son, in tattered rags, goes up and down the aisles with a Pringles can to collect spare change.’
      • ‘You could see the homeless on the streets, in their tattered rags and scraps of what were once new, clean clothes; they were all begging.’
      • ‘In rags she huddled in the corner of her dank cell.’
      • ‘As part of a campaign to tame his wild bride, the groom showed up late, wearing rags and old boots, and carrying a broken sword.’
      • ‘These women, of every age of life, with their tattered rags falling off their thin arms, stood silent as we passed.’
      • ‘The photograph depicts two youths in horrendously tattered rags.’
      • ‘Clothed in gray rags, the expression on her face was happier than anyone else's Marcy had ever seen: half joy, half, Marcy perceived, stark, raving mad.’
      • ‘At the welcoming ceremony all the children lined up, looking like brilliant, unidentifiable flowers in their rags and robes of reds and maroons.’
      • ‘A lone figure in tattered oily rags walked away from the work pit, ignoring the grunts and noise as slaves returned to their tasks.’
      • ‘Why were the noble elite of an advanced Iron Age tribe dressed in drab rags and covered in mud?’
      • ‘He is barely recognisable among the grime, dressed in filthy rags and as anaemic and leaden as his surroundings.’
      • ‘But they don't moan, because it's not that big a deal; they simply don their gaudy rags and their dancing shoes and get on with it.’
      • ‘He had a clean appearance despite his rags and an honest weary face.’
      • ‘The city and its people were immaculately clean, the paths and squares swept, and the humblest canoemen clean in his rags.’
      • ‘Who would leave a child in this kind of weather in nothing but rags?’
      • ‘There was no water to drink or wash in and children were begging, dressed in filthy rags.’
      • ‘He was shabbily dressed, but not in tattered rags as many of the beggars had been.’
      • ‘They were dressed and starring blankly around the room at the other girls who were obviously forcing themselves out of bed and into their tattered rags.’
      • ‘Their faces are scarred from infections caused by sandfly bites, and they are dressed in filthy rags.’
    2. 1.2archaic [with negative]The smallest scrap of cloth or clothing.
      ‘not a rag of clothing has arrived to us this winter’
  • 2informal A newspaper, typically one regarded as being of low quality.

    ‘the local rag’
    • ‘The second disturbing thing was this headline in my local rag.’
    • ‘He relieves some of his frustration by writing letters to the editor of the local rag and lovingly tends his collection of fountain pens.’
    • ‘Livingstone courted right wing rags like the Evening Standard, writing a restaurant column for them.’
    • ‘Alfreda has seen an advert for that mechanical stage musical, ‘Starlight Express’ in the local rag.’
    • ‘I finding that reading the letters in my local rag gives me an insight into the strength of feeling about key issues.’
    • ‘Capitalism is alive and well in the square, even among the socialists, who sell their revolutionary-workers buttons and news rags.’
    • ‘At the moment I'm torn between having my death notice appear in the local paper for my area, or in the weekly rag that's published in my home town.’
    • ‘Take the business of this newspaper, the rag that backed the rebel faction, and that was closed down for 60 days last month.’
    • ‘This was the tactic of the scandal rags and Hollywood gossip sheets, and it was just not done.’
    • ‘Verily, we must be living in a golden age of journalism if the number of prize-winning rags and hacks is anything to go by.’
    • ‘Two weeks back they didn't publish personal ads in my local rag, then last week the kid that delivers the paper left it on top of the letterbox, allowing the rain to do its evil work.’
    • ‘This was a respectable newspaper and not another of those despicable rags printed in other towns.’
    • ‘Journalists working on the rag are up in arms over a series of anti-Gypsy stories printed over the last few weeks.’
    • ‘How did she work as a promising and up-rising journalist at one of the country's most popular tabloid rags?’
    • ‘There are tabloid rags that sully the name of reporting, and there are informed, articulate blogs that raise this medium to a far more rarefied level.’
    • ‘It's a slice of journalism worthy of those other weekly rags, like Woman's Day.’
    • ‘This is the kind of though-provoking journalism sorely lacking in some of our more prominent rags.’
    • ‘He interviewed some of rock's greatest musicians and eventually went on to become an editor of the legendary rock rag.’
    • ‘You find yourself warming to the fascist rag when they indulge in top-quality journalism like this.’
    • ‘I'm a health care reporter for our local rag.’
  • 3rare A herd of colts.

    ‘a rag of colts roamed the moorland’
    • ‘A rag of colts will overrun the streets as the riding center launches a public art exhibition of life-size horses painted by artists.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1 Give a decorative effect to (a painted surface) by applying paint, typically of a different colour, with a rag.

    ‘the background walls have been stippled above the dado rail and ragged below’
    • ‘Here he expanded his skills to include marbling, dragging and ragging techniques.’
    1. 1.1Apply (paint) to a surface with a rag.
      • ‘Paint can be textured or distressed, ragged or rolled.’

Phrases

  • be on the rag

    • informal Be menstruating.

      • ‘At first he was expecting his client to be some pimple face, tub of lard, that choked a guy who made a fat joke while she was on the rag but seeing this girl he now new better than to think of the typical.’
      • ‘In grade seven, she leaked red pen all over my seat so that I walked around all day like I was on the rag in my cool new white jeans.’
      • ‘He said he didn't want to see some ugly broads moan about being on the rag.’
      • ‘And true, being on the rag makes us all more pains in the butt.’
      • ‘Now that everyone in the store was informed of the fact that I was on the rag, I made my selection and took it up to the counter.’
  • lose one's rag

    • informal Lose one's temper.

      • ‘A source told the paper the England captain lost his rag in the dressing room and tore down a joke poster poking fun at his troubles.’
      • ‘I went very close to losing my rag and really telling her off, something I've never actually done and don't want to do.’
      • ‘I was so disappointed and angry that one day on the beach I really lost my rag with him.’
      • ‘Mom loses her rag and threatens to get rid of him approximately twice a day, but he's still here.’
      • ‘I can't remember the last time I lost my rag with anyone without a high degree of provocation or angst being involved.’
      • ‘‘He can easily lose his rag and get overly aggressive if he's not bowling well,’ White says.’
      • ‘During the subsequent backlash, he lost his rag and threw a total hissy fit, complete with flecks of spittle flying from his mouth.’
      • ‘Put anyone in the dugout, anyone, and on 90% of the population it'll have the same effect: they'll tend to lose their rag.’
      • ‘I should have let it drop and said we'd speak in the morning, but instead I lose my rag and tell her I'm going back to the pub and she can sort herself out.’
      • ‘The only future for him in tennis now is to lose his rag in a rather colourful manner during every match - otherwise we'll just forget he exists.’
  • (from) rags to riches

    • Used to describe a person's rise from a state of extreme poverty to one of great wealth.

      ‘it was the old rags-to-riches fantasy’
      • ‘Here, corruption has become the most effective short cut in the journey from rags to riches.’
      • ‘Most of the platinum stars today started out on the road from rags to riches with their own independent label.’
      • ‘The Industrial Revolution had thrown up a new figure in the form of the self-made man: someone who had risen from rags to riches on the basis of sheer hard work and technical competence.’
      • ‘His life is often described as a rags to riches story.’
      • ‘Resembling the plot of one of his own novels, Dickens's life is a tale of rags to riches, complete with bankruptcy, prison, and forced child labour.’
      • ‘How did he move from rags to riches almost overnight?’
      • ‘Collins has no truck with the notion that his fledging career has a rags to riches plotline beloved of comic book fantasy.’
      • ‘The story of the uncompromising short-tempered legendary director is one of rags to riches.’
      • ‘Despite his resolve to rise from rags to riches, Jim's economic maneuvers - as he explains to Huck - have been dismal failures.’
      • ‘At a stretch it's an interesting look into an unusual immigrants story of rags to riches, and the way that money doesn't guarantee you anything - especially happiness.’

Origin

Middle English: probably a back-formation from ragged or raggy.

Pronunciation:

rag

/raɡ/

Main definitions of rag in English

: rag1rag2rag3rag4rag5

rag2

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Make fun of (someone) in a boisterous manner.

    ‘he ragged me about not smoking or drinking’
    ‘despite the way I sometimes rag her, she is my sister’
    • ‘Mind you, that didn't stop us from ragging him rotten all day about being ‘under-equipped’!’
    • ‘The lads were ragging me about that, declaring I had lost my touch, he laughed.’
    • ‘I apologize to Mr. Russell for ragging him but that's what happens when you have a rock garden named after you.’
    • ‘Instead of being ragged and teased on all year like I was last year, I decided to bring just a few cassettes that I made over the summer.’
    • ‘I clearly recall ragging my mother for her expensive taste in clothing before I was even a pre-teen.’
    • ‘Apparently they are not impressed about my ragging their class mascot.’
    • ‘Hey, I'm not ragging you guys, it's nice to know someone actually reads my stuff…’
    • ‘They rag each other endlessly about race and all its permutations, yet two men couldn't be more bonded together than they are in these mysteries.’
    • ‘Nick's friends rag him about being Suzanne's lapdog, especially after they find out Nick has offered to drive her to the airport.’
    • ‘It's like watching your child being ragged in the schoolyard.’
    • ‘He keeps it light and he has just the right touch and timing to know when to rag me about it and when to lay off and let me do things in my own time.’
    • ‘In interviews, he is so polished and articulate that his teammates rag him as an Ivy Leaguer (he went to Nebraska).’
  • 2Rebuke severely.

    ‘I ragged a restaurant last week for mangling Key lime pie’
    • ‘If any male relative comes to the village after sunset, the women rag him and sometimes beat him up.’
  • 3Ice Hockey
    Keep possession of (the puck) by skilful stick-handling and avoidance of opponents, so as to waste time.

    ‘players ragged the puck in mid-ice to kill off penalties’

noun

British
  • 1[mass noun], [usually as modifier] A programme of stunts, parades, and other entertainments organized by students to raise money for charity.

    ‘rag week’
    • ‘Half the time they act like they are taking part in a university rag week.’
    • ‘Nowhere, did I witness a promotion for soft drinks, sandwiches, soup etc. during rag week.’
    • ‘The whole gang get kidnapped by students indulging in some sort of rag week prank.’
    • ‘He was among 1,000 students involved in the rag procession through the streets of Cheltenham on a Saturday morning.’
    • ‘You can't really win against a load of rag week stunts, can you?’
    • ‘The Institute closed its bar during rag week last year and has developed a code of practice for all drinks-related activity on campus.’
    • ‘He wasn't a med student collecting in the street for rag week.’
    • ‘The rag week, from February 8 to 16, is the main source of fundraising.’
    • ‘The spectacle of seeing drunken teenage boys and girls falling on the streets early in the afternoon shocked many in Sligo during rag week.’
    • ‘We'd planned loads of entertainment in the bar right across rag week including comedians, bands and DJs.’
    • ‘It made me laugh, even though it had a kind of amateur, student rag week kind of feel to it.’
    • ‘For the past eight decades or so, the Union has been housed in its distinctive premises at the bottom of University Avenue, regularly stormed by rival Strathclyde students on rag days.’
    • ‘A college which closed its bar during rag week last year has vowed to continue its clampdown on alcohol abuse.’
    • ‘Police have given permission for the march to take place although refused to let it begin from York Minster because of the University's student rag week.’
    • ‘Three men who met as students had been singing university rag songs at the end of a day-long reunion when tragedy struck on a country lane, an inquest heard yesterday.’
    • ‘Although in the past I know I have fully expressed my dislike for getting taken to school by my parents, during rag week we really had no choice.’
    • ‘In rag week the college's Dome Bar was closed in an effort to encourage moderate alcohol drinking.’
    fundraising event, charity event, charitable event, collection
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1informal, dated [count noun]A boisterous prank or practical joke.
      ‘the college is preparing for a good old rag tonight’

Phrasal Verbs

  • rag on

    • Complain about or criticize continually.

      ‘most reports rag on the crudeness of today's gear’
      • ‘This guy is the meekest of mice, since he rags on a person he supposedly cares about.’
      • ‘‘Everyone rags on Baltimore, but I think it's a great city,’ says the sophomore from Rhode Island.’
      • ‘I got a reasonably nice and thoughtful email from the guy I ragged on in my last post, although now I'm afraid to go to the site and read his ‘public’ reply.’
      • ‘You lie there defeated, ragging on yourself for the failure, mad at the judges because this can't be fair.’
      • ‘Let her know you want her to quit ragging on you, pronto.’
      • ‘I hated to be late because Kristi used to rag on me when I kept her waiting.’
      • ‘For example, my wife rags on me semi-constantly for not looking people directly in the eye when I'm introduced.’
      • ‘Any guy who rags on the color of your shoelaces is scary.’
      • ‘He remembered his own father ragging on him about his hair and clothes.’
      • ‘I mean ever since I got here, you've just been ragging on me left and right.’

Origin

Mid 18th century: of unknown origin.

Pronunciation:

rag

/raɡ/

Main definitions of rag in English

: rag1rag2rag3rag4rag5

rag3

noun

  • 1A large coarse roofing slate.

  • 2British [mass noun] A hard, coarse sedimentary rock that can be broken into thick slabs.

    • ‘Following the defences round, Roman remains, comprising the typical red tile and ragstone, can be seen at Cooper's Row and about 45 m. north of Tower Hill underground station.’
    • ‘Ahead of us, now, we can see what appears to be a large country house, built of grey ragstone and surrounded by smooth green lawns with the loch lapping at a small pontoon.’

Origin

Late Middle English (in rag): of unknown origin; later associated with rag.

Pronunciation:

rag

/raɡ/

Main definitions of rag in English

: rag1rag2rag3rag4rag5

rag4

noun

  • A ragtime composition or tune.

    • ‘It definitely puts his performances of Scott Joplin's rags in a different light!’
    • ‘Each book contains ballads, blues, Latin pieces and rags.’
    • ‘Composed rags were widely published and became extremely popular among white amateur pianists, though it is likely that the black creators of ragtime would have played in a much freer manner than the written music suggests.’
    • ‘It is based on traditions of rag music and social protest lyrics.’

Origin

Late 19th century: perhaps from ragged; compare with ragtime.

Pronunciation:

rag

/raɡ/

Main definitions of rag in English

: rag1rag2rag3rag4rag5

rag5

noun

Pronunciation:

rag

/rɑːɡ/