• synonyms


See more synonyms for gruff on Thesaurus.com
adjective, gruff·er, gruff·est.
  1. low and harsh; hoarse: a gruff voice.
  2. rough, brusque, or surly: a gruff manner.
Show More

Origin of gruff

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


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
2. curt.


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

Examples from the Web for gruffness

Historical Examples

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

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • To prove this he wilfully exaggerated his gruffness and curtness of manner.

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • Daddy felt that gruffness was not quite so easy as it had seemed.

    Danger! and Other Stories

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Under his gruffness there was a lot of sentiment and tenderness.

    The Blue Wall

    Richard Washburn Child

  • In her excitement, the gruffness of his tone passed unobserved.


    Caroline Lockhart

British Dictionary definitions for gruffness


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

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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper