Definition of ragtag in English:


(also ragtag and bobtail)


  • Untidy, disorganized, or incongruously varied in character.

    ‘a ragtag group of idealists’
    • ‘A small, ragtag band of idealists facing overwhelming odds decides to gamble on a course of action judged either foolish or brilliant, depending on the outcome.’
    • ‘He is widely believed to have fueled the war in support of one of the fighting parties, to which he committed ragtag militias that perpetrated unspeakable atrocities.’
    • ‘And there's a marvelous, almost throwaway moment where Shaun and his ragtag band of survivors meet up with another group who look, mysteriously, a great deal like Shaun's group.’
    • ‘Verdi did write some music in Nabucco for the banda, that often ragtag group of local band players who demanded to play on stage in operas in many Italian cities in the 19th century.’
    • ‘Governments, international agencies and private charities have begun to train the region's ragtag health care corps to treat children in a model that could spread throughout Africa.’
    • ‘A zany, ragtag band of men from my old stomping grounds of Upstate New York decided to buy themselves a racehorse on Memorial Day weekend of 1995.’
    • ‘At the last election, the Lib Dems were the ‘none of the above’ party - a depository of ragtag protest votes which translated into 16 more seats.’
    • ‘It's a myth that goes back to the revolution and the triumph of America's ragtag guerrillas against the rigid, hierarchical British army.’
    • ‘Adding to the fun is a bit of inspired genre-hopping marked by the entrance of Frank's neighbours, a trio of misfits that form a kind of ragtag support group for him.’
    • ‘Albums - if record labels even bothered to put them out - were just ragtag compilations of unrelated singles.’
    • ‘Everyone defers to him, especially his main man, a clubfooted ghetto intellectual known as Smush, and the other members of Smush's ragtag crew.’
    • ‘We think of Washington at Valley Forge, or we think of Washington with his ragtag band of militia men beating the British.’
    • ‘How would this ragtag bunch of different machines play together?’
    • ‘As our ragtag troupe passed the cafeteria in the West Mall Centre we chanced upon a stack of trays.’
    • ‘There was no word about the 12-year-old twins who lead this ragtag army of around 100 mostly ethnic Karen fighters.’
    • ‘Rather than pout, she joined an unofficial, ragtag team that took on all comers.’
    • ‘Our little ragtag bunch of kids made my friend's party a success by creating a fun experience.’
    • ‘They were ragtag adventurers, all on the road together for different reasons, as fate would have it.’
    • ‘Thus begins a story of three generations of ragtag heroes fighting against the alien invasion.’
    • ‘By his sophomore year, Burt had secured some low-grade sponsorships while competing on a ragtag racing circuit that would, in 1987, coalesce into a bona fide World Cup series.’


in singular
  • A disreputable or disorganized group of people.

    ‘the ragtag had been organized into some kind of marching order’
    • ‘This was the case when the US, the UK, and a ragtag of minor allies invaded the country in March.’
    • ‘In more prosaic moments she comments on a ragtag of fellow travellers, landlords and farmers, and lorry drivers who don't know the country code of how to pass horses on the road.’
    • ‘The people I have known have been a scruffy lot, a ragtag of mongrels from all over the place, but I would not change them for the world.’
    • ‘Although a far from usual setting for a comedy series, the inmates were not too problematic or insane but merely a ragtag of eccentrics who had opted out of life.’
    • ‘Rather oddly, the fireman sporting a handlebar moustache about to sip a saucer of hot cocoa is ignoring the fire ragtag behind him and turns his back on two colleagues who are tackling it.’
    • ‘People are booing, and I don't even try to stop them as this ragtag of veteran-looking musicians play on.’
    • ‘Our job in 2003 is to first make and then keep this disparate ragtag of a Government honest.’


Early 19th century superseding earlier tag-rag and tag and rag(see rag, tag).