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[gruhf] /grʌf/
adjective, gruffer, gruffest.
low and harsh; hoarse:
a gruff voice.
rough, brusque, or surly:
a gruff manner.
Origin of gruff
1525-35; < Middle Dutch grof coarse; cognate with German grob
Related forms
gruffish, adjective
gruffly, adverb
gruffness, noun
ungruff, adjective
2. curt.
2. courteous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gruffly
Historical Examples
  • Herriot looked up and called him gruffly but not unkindly, the boy thought.

    The Black Buccaneer Stephen W. Meader
  • “And you're helping her,” the Crosspatch Conductor said, gruffly.

    Glory and the Other Girl Annie Hamilton Donnell
  • He had not gone a dozen paces before a sentry levelled his rifle and gruffly commanded him to halt.

    Fighting in Flanders E. Alexander Powell
  • "I've come to see Mrs. Eustace," he said gruffly when Bessie answered.

    The Rider of Waroona Firth Scott
  • Noting her mood, Whaley gruffly took up the letter and, adjusting his black-rimmed nose-glasses, he read it.

    The Cottage of Delight Will N. Harben
  • I heard one of the men say gruffly, "Now then, you cut along off!"

    The Wonder J. D. Beresford
  • "You might have been better employed," said John Minute gruffly.

    The Man Who Knew Edgar Wallace
  • "There's a little girl that I'm going to see here in Tillbury," he said gruffly.

    Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp Annie Roe Carr
  • In a moment all the events of the unlucky morning came back to her, and his gruffly unfavourable opinion.

  • Hilma overwhelmed him with a burst of gratitude which he gruffly pretended to deprecate.

    The Octopus Frank Norris
British Dictionary definitions for gruffly


rough or surly in manner, speech, etc: a gruff reply
(of a voice, bark, etc) low and throaty
Derived Forms
gruffish, adjective
gruffly, adverb
gruffness, noun
Word Origin
C16: originally Scottish, from Dutch grof, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German girob; related to Old English hrēof, Lithuanian kraupùs
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gruffly

1700, from gruff + -ly (2).



1530s, "coarse, coarse-grained," from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German grof "coarse (in quality), thick, large," of uncertain origin, regarded by some as related to Old English hreof, Old Norse hrjufr "rough, scabby," with Germanic completive prefix ga-. Sense of "rough, surly" recorded by 1690s. Related: Gruffness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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