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1. noun Literally, a doll made of, and typically stuffed with, cloth. Originally made with scraps as an inexpensive way of making a toy for a child. Because of its floppy limbs, it is often used in similes to describe someone flailing or being thrown around in a violent, overpowering manner. It isn't much to look at, but this rag doll that my grandmother made me while we were at our poorest is one of my most treasured possessions. The dog got ahold of the raccoon and shook the poor thing back and forth like a rag doll.
2. noun A weak, incompetent, or irresolute person. Despite his strong promises during his election campaign, the new president has so far been something of a rag doll when it comes to foreign policy. His boyfriend is a bit of a rag doll, isn't he? Just kind of sits there, going along with whatever Tony wants.
3. verb, slang To crumple into a limp, lifeless form. Sometimes hyphenated. After getting hit in the head, he rag dolled and remained totally motionless for almost a minute. The site of the hiker rag-dolling down the side of the steep hill was horrifying.
4. verb, slang To cause someone to crumple into a limp, lifeless form. Sometimes hyphenated. With one mighty punch, the boxer rag-dolled his opponent and was declared the world champion. The linebacker has become infamous for rag dolling other players with his intense tackles.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
A limp, ineffectual person, as in You won't get a decision from her; she's a rag doll when it comes to making up her mind . This expression transfers the limpness of a soft doll made from scraps of cloth to human behavior. [Mid-1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.