• synonyms


[ruhf-uh l]
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verb (used with object), ruf·fled, ruf·fling.
  1. to destroy the smoothness or evenness of: The wind ruffled the sand.
  2. to erect (the feathers), as a bird in anger.
  3. to disturb, vex, or irritate: to be ruffled by a perceived slight.
  4. to turn (the pages of a book) rapidly.
  5. to pass (cards) through the fingers rapidly in shuffling.
  6. to draw up (cloth, lace, etc.) into a ruffle by gathering along one edge.
verb (used without object), ruf·fled, ruf·fling.
  1. to be or become ruffled; undulate; flutter: Flags ruffle in the wind.
  2. to be or become vexed or irritated.
  3. to put on airs; swagger.
  1. a break in the smoothness or evenness of some surface; undulation.
  2. a strip of cloth, lace, etc., drawn up by gathering along one edge and used as a trimming on a dress, blouse, etc.
  3. some object resembling this, as the ruff of a bird.
  4. disturbance or vexation; annoyance; irritation: It is impossible to live without some daily ruffles to our composure.
  5. a disturbed state of mind; perturbation.

Origin of ruffle1

1250–1300; Middle English ruffelen (v.); cognate with Low German ruffelen to crumple, rumple; compare Old Norse hruffa to scratch
Related formsruf·fly, adjectiveruf·fler, noun


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1. disarrange, disorder, wrinkle, rumple. 3. upset, annoy, agitate. 10. perturbation, flurry, agitation. 11. frill, ruff.


1. smooth, arrange, order. 3. soothe, compose. 13. tranquillity.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ruffler

Historical Examples

  • The ruffler paused a moment, as if awaiting a reply or a word of encouragement.

    The Tavern Knight

    Rafael Sabatini

  • "It is my intent to lead this company myself," he loftily informed the ruffler.


    Raphael Sabatini

  • At sight of the red liquor the fury died out of the ruffler's face.


    Raphael Sabatini

  • After the first hackle, called a ruffler, six other finer hackles were often used.

  • Sit you upon your chair that I may call one to send this ruffler here.'

British Dictionary definitions for ruffler


  1. a person or thing that ruffles
  2. an attachment on a sewing machine used for making frills


  1. to make, be, or become irregular or rumpledto ruffle a child's hair; a breeze ruffling the water
  2. to annoy, irritate, or be annoyed or irritated
  3. (tr) to make into a ruffle; pleat
  4. (of a bird) to erect (its feathers) in anger, display, etc
  5. (tr) to flick (cards, pages, etc) rapidly with the fingers
  1. an irregular or disturbed surface
  2. a strip of pleated material used for decoration or as a trim
  3. zoology another name for ruff 1 (def. 2)
  4. annoyance or irritation

Word Origin

C13: of Germanic origin; compare Middle Low German ruffelen to crumple, Old Norse hrufla to scratch


  1. a low continuous drumbeat
  1. (tr) to beat (a drum) with a low repetitive beat

Word Origin

C18: from earlier ruff, of imitative origin


  1. (intr) archaic to behave riotously or arrogantly; swagger

Word Origin

C15: of obscure origin
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

Word Origin and History for ruffler



early 14c., "to disturb the smoothness of," perhaps from Old Norse hrufla "to scratch," or Low German ruffelen "to wrinkle, curl," both of unknown origin. Meaning "disarrange" (hair or feathers) first recorded late 15c.; sense of "annoy, distract" is from 1650s. Related: Ruffled; ruffling.



"ornamental frill," 1707, from ruffle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper