Word for Wednesday: Ragamuffin

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This week’s Word for Wednesday is a well-worn word whose appeal has truly stood the test of time.

The word Ragamuffin originates from around the 14th century when it was used to describe a demon; supposedly referring to a demon’s ‘ragged’ appearance.

The muffin half of the word is normally considered fanciful, but a number of dictionaries cite the Middle Dutch word ‘muffe’, meaning ‘mitten’. Despite this, the modern meaning of ‘muffin’ does plenty to soften the word perhaps explaining its lasting popularity.

According to Etymonline, there are records of people with the surname ‘Ragamuffyn’: imagine having the second name ‘Demon’…

Nowadays, the word ragamuffin describes a scruffy, mischievous child - they don’t necessarily have to be wearing ragged clothes - and is more often than not used lightheartedly.

Hugh MacDermott

22 Jul 2015
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"Spellzone fits in beautifully with our Scope and Sequence of Phonological Awareness and Spelling. It also aligns perfectly with the four areas of spelling knowledge and uses the Brain, Ears, Eyes approach to learning spelling."
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Teacher, Australia