Riff-raff

The offscouring of society, or rather, “refuse and sweepings.” Rief is Anglo-Saxon, and means a rag; Raff is also Anglo-Saxon, and means sweepings. (Danish, rips-raps.) The French have the expression “Avoir rifle et rafle,” meaning to have everything; whence radoux (one who has everything), and the phrase “Il n'a laissé ni rif ni raf” (he has left nothing behind him).

“I have neither ryff nor ruff [rag to cover me nor roof over my head].” —Sharp: Coventry Myst., p. 224.

Ilka man agayne his gud he gaffe
That he had tane with ryfe and raffe.

Quoted by Halliwell in his Archaic Dictionary.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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