Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

Word of the Day: raffish

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Someone raffish is unusually vulgar, with no respect for common decency or even other people. Within raffish, we’ll find raff—yes, as in riffraff. Riffraff merely means that someone isn’t trustworthy or isn’t up to par. Raff was the word for people on a lower rung. But the phrase in full was riff and raff, meaning “everyone,” addressed as a group. This phrase came from rifle, meaning to search for something frantically, and may also be related to raffle. Riff and raff was the established phrase, shortened to raffish by Jane Austen.

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