We know the governor, despite his popularity and his toe-dips into bipartisanship, has a reputation as a ruffian.
The ruffian actually looked astonished, and for a moment did not reply, so bewildered did he seem.
If Rosario does not abhor that ruffian as I wish her to do, she shall abhor him.
She made me feel as if I were a cad and a beast and a ruffian—as if I wanted k-kick-kicking.
He took the letters from his pocket, and handed them to the ruffian.
Near the dire cell the dreadless wanderer oft Passes, as oft the ruffian shows his front.
He had not gone far, before he was despatched by a ruffian, sent on that errand.
I hope I shall never be deterred from detecting what I think a cheat, by the menaces of a ruffian.
When you last saw him, monsieur, you say he was struggling with the ruffian who wounded you?
My intent was, first to cut down the ruffian, and then set free the limbs of the captive with the blood-stained blade.
1530s, "a boisterous, brutal fellow, one ready to commit any crime," from Middle French rufian "a pimp" (15c.), from Italian ruffiano "a pander, pimp," of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Germanic source related to rough (adj.), but Dutch roffiaan, German Ruffian are said to be from French. English meaning might have been influenced by similarity of sound to rough. Related: Ruffianly.
The Romanic words (e.g. Medieval Latin ruffianus, Provençal rufian, Catalan rufia, Spanish rufian) preserve the sense of "protector or owner of whores." For sense evolution in English, cf. bully (n.).