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1. old-fashioned A collection of photographs of known criminals and suspects kept and used by police to identify people taken into custody. The constable recognized the shady character from the rogues' gallery back at the station.
2. By extension, any collection of unsavory, unpleasant, or undesirable people or things. Often used humorously or ironically. The film is a veritable rogues' gallery of bad cinema—bad direction, bad acting, bad cinematography, bad everything. The new studio is something of a rogues' gallery of developers that used to work for the biggest video game publishers in the industry.
See also: gallery
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Originally, a portrayal of a group of disreputable individuals, such as wanted criminals, but later used humorously for any group photograph. The term, also spelled rogue’s gallery, originated in the mid-1800s for a collection of criminals’ portraits. A century later it was used more lightly, as in “Bob Dylan, Arthur Lee, Keith Richard, Bob Marley—the rogue’s gallery of rebel input that forms the hard stuff at the centre of rock” (Kathy McKnight and John Tobler, Bob Marley: The Roots of Reggae, 1977).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
Collection of “head shot” photographs. A rogues gallery is a compilation of “mug shot” photos of actual and suspected criminals maintained by police departments for purposes of identification. The practice began in the mid-19th century with the development of photography. By extension, any collection of head-and-shoulder photos, such as college fraternity composites and academic yearbooks, is jokingly referred to as rogues galleries.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price