rag (n.1)

"torn or worn scrap of cloth," early 14c., probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse rögg "shaggy tuft, rough hair," earlier raggw-; Old Danish rag; see rug), or else a back-formation from ragged. It also may represent an unrecorded Old English cognate of Old Norse rögg. In any case, from Proto-Germanic *rawwa-, from PIE root *reue- (2) "to smash, knock down, tear up, uproot" (see rough (adj.)).

Also in Middle English "a hard, rough piece of stone" (late 13c.). As an insulting term for "newspaper, magazine" it dates from 1734; slang for "tampon, sanitary napkin" is attested from 1930s (on the rag "menstruating" is from 1948). Rags "tattered clothing" is from mid-14c.; in the jocular sense of "personal clothing" it is attested by 1855 (singular), American English. Rags-to-riches as a description of a tale of a rise from poverty to wealth is attested by 1896. Rag-picker is from 1860; rag-shop, one selling old clothes, is from 1829.

rag (v.)

1739, "to scold," a word of unknown origin; perhaps related to Danish dialectal rag "grudge." Compare bullyrag, ballarag "intimidate" (1807). Weakened sense of "annoy, tease, harass roughly" is student slang, by 1808. Related: Ragged; ragging.

rag (n.2)

"piece of ragtime music," by 1897; see ragtime.

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Definitions of rag
rag (v.)
treat cruelly;
Synonyms: torment / bedevil / crucify / dun / frustrate
rag (v.)
cause annoyance in; disturb, especially by minor irritations;
Synonyms: annoy / get to / bother / get at / irritate / rile / nark / nettle / gravel / vex / chafe / devil
rag (v.)
play in ragtime;
rag that old tune
rag (v.)
harass with persistent criticism or carping;
Synonyms: tease / razz / cod / tantalize / tantalise / bait / taunt / twit / rally / ride
rag (v.)
censure severely or angrily;
The deputy ragged the Prime Minister
Synonyms: call on the carpet / take to task / rebuke / trounce / lecture / reprimand / jaw / dress down / call down / scold / chide / berate / bawl out / remonstrate / chew out / chew up / have words / lambaste / lambast
rag (v.)
break into lumps before sorting;
rag ore
rag (n.)
a small piece of cloth or paper;
Synonyms: shred / tag / tag end / tatter
rag (n.)
a week at British universities during which side-shows and processions of floats are organized to raise money for charities;
Synonyms: rag week
rag (n.)
music with a syncopated melody (usually for the piano);
Synonyms: ragtime
rag (n.)
newspaper with half-size pages;
Synonyms: tabloid / sheet
rag (n.)
a boisterous practical joke (especially by college students);