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[skruhf] /skrʌf/
the nape or back of the neck.
Origin of scruff1
1780-90; variant of dial. scuff, scuft < Dutch schoft horse's withers


[skruhf] /skrʌf/
noun, Metallurgy.
(in tin-plating) dross formed in the bath.
metathetic variant of scurf Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for scruff
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And with that he seized me again by the scruff of the neck and shook me.

    Hidden Hand

    Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth
  • So we adopted a more pressing plan, and coaxed him out by the scruff of his neck.

    Novel Notes Jerome K. Jerome
  • She came to and tried to bite me, but I had her by the scruff of the neck and she couldn't.

    IT and Other Stories Gouverneur Morris
  • When dinner-time came we had to be dragged in by the scruff of our necks.

    Dream Days Kenneth Grahame
  • Bucky would drag you back by the scruff of the neck in two weeks.

    Crooked Trails and Straight William MacLeod Raine
  • Grasping the animal by the scruff of the neck, he tossed him into the standing-room.

    Jim Spurling, Fisherman

    Albert Walter Tolman
British Dictionary definitions for scruff


the nape of the neck (esp in the phrase by the scruff of the neck)
Word Origin
C18: variant of scuft, perhaps from Old Norse skoft hair; related to Old High German scuft


(informal) an untidy scruffy person
(informal) a disreputable person, ruffian
another name for scum (sense 3)
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 scruff

"nape of the neck," 1790, altered (by influence of scruff "crust") from scuft (1787), probably related to North Frisian skuft "back of the neck of a horse" and Dutch schoft "withers of a horse," from a common Germanic source (cf. Old Norse skopt "hair of the head," Gothic skuft, Middle High German schopf, German Schopf). Another theory holds it to be a variant of scurf.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for scruff

scruff 1

v,v phr

To make a bare living; scrape along (1940s+)

scruff 2



[1970s+ Teenagers; fr scruffy]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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