Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[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. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for gruffness
Historical Examples
  • Again, in spite of the gruffness, I felt that wistful quality in him.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • To prove this he wilfully exaggerated his gruffness and curtness of manner.

    His Masterpiece Emile Zola
  • Daddy felt that gruffness was not quite so easy as it had seemed.

    Danger! and Other Stories Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Under his gruffness there was a lot of sentiment and tenderness.

    The Blue Wall

    Richard Washburn Child
  • In her excitement, the gruffness of his tone passed unobserved.

    'Me-Smith' Caroline Lockhart
  • gruffness had come into his voice, which the other ascribed to excitement.

  • Barton tried not to be interested, but he could not help it in spite of his gruffness.

    Mary Barton

    Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • "I'll forgive your gruffness if you make yourself intelligible," said she.

    Phyllis of Philistia Frank Frankfort Moore
  • The rough harbor-master changed his gruffness to smiles in an instant.

    Sir Nigel Arthur Conan Doyle
  • His gruffness and brevity disturbed me more than I cared to confess.

    A Far Country, Complete Winston Churchill
British Dictionary definitions for gruffness


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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for gruffness



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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for gruffness

Word Value for gruffness

Scrabble Words With Friends