Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for gruffness
Historical Examples
  • His gruffness had forsaken him, and he came forward with an unembarrassed and dignified bearing.

    Erling the Bold R.M. Ballantyne
  • Under his gruffness there was a lot of sentiment and tenderness.

    The Blue Wall Richard Washburn Child
  • They accepted his gruffness as simple-mindedness, as blunt honesty.

    The Shadow Arthur Stringer
  • In her excitement, the gruffness of his tone passed unobserved.

    'Me-Smith' Caroline Lockhart
  • "Get away, daughter," he grumbled, with that shade of gruffness which is but the transition to absolute surrender.

  • Again, in spite of the gruffness, I felt that wistful quality in him.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • A Northumberland Fusilier exploded into words which expressed the gruffness of his comrades.

    The Great Boer War Arthur Conan Doyle
  • gruffness had come into his voice, which the other ascribed to excitement.

  • He has a notion that it's unmanly and weak; so that when Stanley did speak he assumed a gruffness he was far from feeling.

    The Hero of Garside School J. Harwood Panting
  • "I'll forgive your gruffness if you make yourself intelligible," said she.

    Phyllis of Philistia Frank Frankfort Moore
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

Difficulty index for gruff

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for gruffness

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for gruffness