ragamuffin

Use the word ragamuffin to affectionately tease your friend who shows up late to brunch with messy hair, dark circles under her eyes, and her shirt on backwards. In essence, you are calling her a shabbily clad street urchin.

Now a generally playful and affectionate term indicating dishevelment, ragamuffin came into existence in the mid-14th century with a more punishing connotation. Derived in part from the word ragged, then used to refer to the devil’s shaggy appearance, it has also historically been used to describe a lazy and worthless, or beggarly individual. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable provides a helpful and quirky explanation for the word: “A muffin is a poor thing of a creature, a 'regular muff'; so that a ragamuffin is a sorry creature in rags.”

Definitions of ragamuffin
1

n a dirty shabbily clothed urchin

Synonyms:
tatterdemalion
Type of:
urchin
poor and often mischievous city child

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.