Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rag v.1

1. in senses of verbal or physical harassment [despite chronology, presumably link to rag n.1 (3b); ? abbr. bullyrag v.] .

(a) to scold, to talk severely to.

[UK]Sessions Papers June cited in Partridge DSUE (1984) 955/1: On Monday night Bird and Clark came to their House to ragg (scold) her Grandfather for what he had talk’d of concerning them.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: to Rag, to Scold, or give abusive Language. She gave him a good Ragging or Ragged him off Heartily. Perhaps from tearing his Character to Rags.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: To Rag. To abuse, and tear to rags the characters of the persons abused. She gave him a good ragging, or ragged him off heartily.
[UK]‘T.B. Junr.’ Pettyfogger Dramatized II i: He ragged me confoundedly, and, to be sure, I deserved it.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 72: ragged Abused; slandered.
[UK]‘F. Anstey’ Vice Versa (1931) 257: You’re right there, sir, [...] he ought to be well ragged for it .
[UK]Kipling ‘His Private Honour’ in Many Inventions [TBD]: The captain had come up anf was raggin’ me about my tunic bein’ tore.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden and Mr Paul 103: [She] cops us. My, my! But she ragged us good.
[UK]A. Lunn Harrovians 16: He thinks he can rag you as much as he likes when you can’t answer back.
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 84: She’s the kind of woman who comes and rags you before breakfast.
[US]J. Dixon Free To Love 15: Now see here, Kit, if your gonna rag me – can’t stan’ – it.
[US]C. Willingham End as a Man (1952) 143: He was going to be here at nine. To rag you for writing me a dirty letter.
[UK]Willans & Searle Complete Molesworth (1985) 351: He is a perfect gent [...] and I would never dreme of ragging him.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 180: Angry. Constantly complaining and irritable.
[US](con. 1967) E. Spencer Welcome to Vietnam (1989) 52: I don’t think I could take some cocksucker hovering over me like that, ragging at me about my every move.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 208: Shitefire, she ragged herself, you’ve heard enough men protest no strings.
[US]G. Tate Midnight Lightning 35: He [...] never tired of ragging younger players, and even Eric Clapton, about the heresy of inadequate rhythm guitar skills.

(b) (also rag on) to annoy, to tease (esp. in context of school or university).

[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 248: Truce with your ragging, Dick [...] I’m not in the humour at all.
[US]L.H. Bagg Four Years at Yale 46: Rag, to overcome and entirely use up an opponent or rival.
[UK]N&Q Ser. 7 VI 38: To rag a man is good Lincolnshire for chaff or tease [F&H].
[UK]A. Binstead Mop Fair 170: He so ragged the bear that it shouted, ‘Aisy, Mick, yue something fool!’.
[UK]‘Ian Hay’ Lighter Side of School Life 98: They will not dare to rag a prefect.
[UK]A. Brazil Madcap of the School 11: ‘You needn’t look so incredulous. I’m not ragging’.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Jim Maitland (1953) 74: You’ve got guts; you’ve got nerve, and I want to apologise here and now for ragging you.
[US](con. WWI) H. Odum Wings on My Feet 21: Well, boys pulled him up but sho’ did rag life out of ’im.
[UK]E. Garnett Family from One End Street 18: She got ragged as it was now she’d begun to go to school.
[UK]G. Fairlie Capt. Bulldog Drummond 105: Yours very sincerely [...] makes up his mind to rag the stand-offish Drummond.
[UK]A. Buckeridge Jennings Goes To School 67: Mr. Wilkins could not stand being ragged.
[UK]K. Williams Diaries 2 Jan. 205: I was ragging Bett M[arsden] a lot, and felt v. guilty after.
[US]P. Gent North Dallas Forty 203: I loved to rag him.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 44: Darlene is nine months gone, and Mr Foster is [...] really dirty on her for getting preggers and all his mates are ragging him about it.
[Can]Totally True Diaries of an Eighties Roller Queen [Internet] 30 Apr. Kerrie wasn’t at school today and Gary was really ragging. Sometimes he can be a real prick.
[US]R. Campbell Sweet La-La Land (1999) 97: Otherwise he’d get on his ass and start ragging him and making small of him.
[US]Mad mag. Dec. 35: Think I want to see those fat, bald losers? I would. It’d be fun to rag on ’em.
[UK]Sun. Times (London) 16 Oct. [Internet] Seventy years later he watches ‘loutish Tories’ ragging Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons.

(c) to attack, to cause trouble; in context, to rob.

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 54: rag, v. To steal.
[UK]K. Sampson Awaydays 11: Everyone seems pretty intent on ragging the town come what may. [Ibid.] 42: They’d stayed on the train until Stoke and ragged the shops in Hanley.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 90: We got together afterwards and ragged them.

(d) (US campus) to talk nonsense.

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 54: rag, v. To talk nonsense.

(e) to fight, to beat up; to manhandle.

[UK]Gem 18 Nov. 27: Tom Merry faced the raggers. ‘Before you rag him, you’ll have to rag me!’ he said.
[UK]B. Hare Urban Grimshaw 58: She kicked Tyson across the room and ragged the kids off the pile, one by one.

(f) (UK juv.) to create disorder.

[UK]A. Lunn Harrovians 47: They give privs to understand that they can rag mildly if only they stop other blokes.

(g) to argue over a topic, to wrangle.

[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 119: She was tired of sitting down to a Sunday dinner and being forced to listen to this interminable ragging.

(h) (US) to gossip.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 167: rag [...] 3. (fr colloq chew the rag) to gossip, criticize, speak badly of one absent.
[US]A.N. LeBlanc Random Family 50: Miranda and another worker were ragging about George’s predilection for expensive silk shirts.

(i) to complain.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 5: rag – to complain bitterly.
Online Sl. Dict. [Internet] rag v [...] 3. to complain. (‘Stop ragging about that!’).

(j) to question closely, to interrogate.

[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 93: ‘If you keep raggin’ like that, maybe not.’ She shrugged. ‘Just asked a simple question.’.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Hot-Prowl Rape-O’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 303: Don’t rag the suicide scenario, don’t risk your pension pack.

2. to share, esp. to divide up the proceeds of a crime; thus go rags, to share out [? SE rag, to tear in pieces].

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 198: RAG, to divide or share; ‘let’s rag it,’ or go rags, i.e., share it equally between us.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

3. with ref. to menstruation.

(a) to menstruate.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 180: Rag it Be menstruating.
Online Sl. Dict. [Internet] rag v 1. to menstruate. (‘I’ve been ragging since Tuesday, and I feel horrible!’) 2. to stain with menses. (‘Oh, man, I ragged my pants.’).

(b) to be irritable.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 3: rag – to be irritable: Don’t talk to her, she’s ragging.

4. (US black) to dress (fashionably).

[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 94: Babes flocked to guys who ragged hard.

In compounds

In phrases

rag on (v.)

1. (US) to nag, to criticize.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 8: rag on – belittle, insult, tease.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 230: Deek was raggin on his bodyguard bout bein late for some kinda payoff clear cross town.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 131: Carlos ragged on Guy B. Guy drank too much. Guy talked too much. Guy loved his blowhard pal Hank Hudspeth.

2. see sense 1b above.

rag talk (v.)

to threaten; thus n. rag-talk, a whining plea.

[US]T. Piccirilli Fever Kill 63: Now he was going to rag talk. You can’t spook a guy who’s taken your gun away.
P. Maziar What It Is 66: He went on giving the same rag-talk over the payphone in the city.
‘Brother Tom’ Blood from Angels’ Wings 53: Do you care more about a hip-hop doggie-drop skank-weed rag-talk than about the truth?!