• synonyms


adjective, gruff·er, gruff·est.
  1. low and harsh; hoarse: a gruff voice.
  2. rough, brusque, or surly: a gruff manner.
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Origin of gruff

1525–35; < Middle Dutch grof coarse; cognate with German grob
Related formsgruff·ish, adjectivegruff·ly, adverbgruff·ness, nounun·gruff, adjective

Synonyms for gruff

2. curt.

Antonyms for gruff

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gruffly

Historical Examples of gruffly

  • "I have been waiting this time back," said Hordle John gruffly.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • "Nonsense," the giant said gruffly, to hide his own misgivings.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • Hugh drew his sleeve across his lips, and gruffly answered yes.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • He gruffly bade the animal "gid-dap" and appeared a trifle confused.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • "I don't want to hear you," broke in the second voice, gruffly.

    Galusha the Magnificent

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for gruffly


  1. rough or surly in manner, speech, etca gruff reply
  2. (of a voice, bark, etc) low and throaty
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Derived Formsgruffish, adjectivegruffly, adverbgruffness, noun

Word Origin for gruff

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

Word Origin and History for gruffly


1700, from gruff + -ly (2).

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper