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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:08 am

• ragamuffin •

Pronunciation: ræg-ê-mê-fin • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A dirty and shabbily dressed or just mussy child.

Notes: This is a word seldom used today since we rarely see children in raggedy clothes these days. However, all children who play outdoors look like ragamuffins at some point in their lives, so it is nice that we have this Good Word to use in refer to the way they look good-naturedly. The muffin in its composition allows it to be used in reference to anyone we might be tempted to call 'cupcake'.

In Play: As mentioned above, this word is used less today in referring to raggedy children than to kids whose clothes are grimy and rumpled: "Who let the kids play outside after the rain? They look like a gang of ragamuffins!" In Jamaica, where ragga is a dance hall variation of reggae music, people into ragga are often called raggamuffins (watch out for the double G).

Word History: Today's Good Word clearly may be divided into raga- and muffin. The raga- comes from Middle English ragge "rag". The sense of ragged was used of the devil from the 14th century on because of his shaggy appearance. William Langland named a demon in Piers Plowman "Ragamoffyn". The sense of naughtiness comes from this association: how many of us have called a rowdy child a little demon? Muffin (or moffyn) in this context may have been influenced by Middle Dutch muffe "mitten", which also ended up in English as muff. In Middle German, Muffe means "cupcake", but the sense of "ragged mittens" made more sense in Middle English. The conversion of muffe (or moffyn) to muffin is no doubt the result of folk etymology but, since this word is also a term of endearment like cupcake, it conveys a sense of sympathy to this word. (Today we thank Billie Brighwell for suggesting our shaggy but endearing Good Word of the day.)
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Postby Stargzer » Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:42 am

I have this cloudy memory of a song with this word in its lyrics somewhere around the fifth line.

That song, however is a good bit different from another raggedy-times song, the delightful R-A-G-G-M-O-P-P RAGGMOPP! song, which most people probably heard on the Beany & Cecil show.

Many versions of Rag Mop exist on YouTube (where else?):

A modern animated version with Lionel Hampton on vibes.

A version by The Ames Brothers (who had another popular song about a particular naughty lady, seen here on an early Not-So-Compact-Disk).

A version with a chorus of Homo sapiens sapiens performing with a trio of of the genus Tamias, species bagdasariani, varieties simonus, theodorus, and alvinus.

Another version with what sounds like the Ames Brothers version playing as various members of Canis lupus familiaris are shown.

But I just can't seem to find the Beany & Cecil version! Where can it be? I must keep searching ...

[Editor's note:
Whilst researching the various versions of Ragmop on YouTube in a vain attempt to find the elusive Beany & Cecil version, Stargzer stumbled upon another Beany & Cecil episode (The Wild Man of Wildsville, which has more puns than even Skinem could ever put into one post) that proves that the cartoons from his wasted youth are wasted on youth. He is now lost somewhere on the Hungry i-Land. Having landed on Pismo Beachnik, he was last seen crossing the Mort Soil bound for the Lenny Spruce, hoping to find the Greenwitch Village and the Kingston Tree-O, and, eventually, the wily Wild Man himself, Go Man Van Gogh (as voiced by the inimitable Richard Buckley (a.k.a. Lord Buckley)!).

We have no idea how to find him, and since he may even have grown back his goatee and blended into the fauna with Flora on the Hungry i-Land, we are attempting to hire a native guide from that era to find him.

In the meantime, since there's no telling when he'll return, we'll post (this is a forum, after all) that elusive episode (D J the D J, in which even Skinem may find a new pun or three) in the hope that if you play it as often as possible Stargzer'll be able to hear it and find his way back to civilization, or whatever passes for it in your corner of cyberspace.

If you don't play it, well, you will have proven that, in the words of the late Allan Sherman as covered by The Misfits, you are one of these.]

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee

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