Originally applied in the chase to a lean, worthless deer, then a collective term for the commonalty, the mob; and popularly to a base fellow. Shakespeare says, “Horns! the noblest deer hath them as huge as the rascal” [deer]. Palsgrave calls a starveling animal, like the lean kine of Pharaoh, “a rascall refus beest” (1530). The French have racaille (riff-raff).
“Come, you thin thing; come, you rascal.” —
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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