View synonyms for rough


[ ruhf ]


, rough·er, rough·est.
  1. having a coarse or uneven surface, as from projections, irregularities, or breaks; not smooth:

    rough, red hands;

    a rough road.

    Synonyms: craggy, bumpy, jagged, irregular

    Antonyms: regular, even, smooth

  2. shaggy or coarse:

    a dog with a rough coat.

    Synonyms: bristly, hairy

  3. (of an uninhabited region or large land area) steep or uneven and covered with high grass, brush, trees, stones, etc.:

    to hunt over rough country.

  4. acting with or characterized by violence:

    Boxing is a rough sport.

  5. characterized by unnecessary violence or infractions of the rules:

    It was a rough prize fight.

  6. violently disturbed or agitated; turbulent, as water or the air:

    a rough sea.

  7. having a violently irregular motion; uncomfortably or dangerously uneven:

    The plane had a rough flight in the storm.

  8. stormy or tempestuous, as wind or weather.
  9. sharp or harsh:

    a rough temper.

  10. unmannerly or rude:

    his rough and churlish manner;

    They exchanged rough words.

  11. disorderly or riotous:

    a rough mob.

  12. difficult or unpleasant:

    to have a rough time of it.

  13. harsh to the ear; grating or jarring, as sounds.

    Synonyms: raucous, cacophonous, noisy

  14. harsh to the taste; sharp or astringent:

    a rough wine.

  15. coarse, as food.
  16. lacking culture or refinement:

    a rough, countrified manner.

    Synonyms: unpolished, rude, uncivil, impolite

  17. without refinements, luxuries, or ordinary comforts or conveniences:

    rough camping.

  18. requiring exertion or strength rather than intelligence or skill:

    rough manual labor.

  19. not elaborated, perfected, or corrected; unpolished, as language, verse, or style:

    a rough draft.

  20. made or done without any attempt at exactness, completeness, or thoroughness; approximate or tentative:

    a rough guess.

  21. crude, unwrought, nonprocessed, or unprepared:

    rough rice.

  22. Phonetics. uttered with aspiration; having the sound of h; aspirated.


  1. something that is rough, especially rough ground.
  2. Golf. any part of the course bordering the fairway on which the grass, weeds, etc., are not trimmed.
  3. the unpleasant or difficult part of anything.
  4. anything in its crude or preliminary form, as a drawing.
  5. Chiefly British. a rowdy; ruffian.


  1. in a rough manner; roughly.

verb (used with object)

, roughed, rough·ing.
  1. to make rough; roughen.
  2. to give a beating to, manhandle, or subject to physical violence (often followed by up ):

    The mob roughed up the speaker.

  3. to subject to some rough, preliminary process of working or preparation (often followed by down, off, or out ):

    to rough off boards.

  4. to sketch roughly or in outline (often followed by in or out ):

    to rough out a diagram;

    to rough in the conversation of a novel.

  5. Sports. to subject (a player on the opposing team) to unnecessary physical abuse, as in blocking or tackling:

    The team was penalized 15 yards for roughing the kicker.

verb (used without object)

, roughed, rough·ing.
  1. to become rough, as a surface.
  2. to behave roughly.


/ rʌf /


  1. (of a surface) not smooth; uneven or irregular
  2. (of ground) covered with scrub, boulders, etc
  3. denoting or taking place on uncultivated ground

    rough grazing

    rough shooting

  4. shaggy or hairy
  5. turbulent; agitated

    a rough sea

  6. (of the performance or motion of something) uneven; irregular

    a rough engine

  7. (of behaviour or character) rude, coarse, ill mannered, inconsiderate, or violent
  8. harsh or sharp

    rough words

  9. informal.
    severe or unpleasant

    a rough lesson

  10. (of work, a task, etc) requiring physical rather than mental effort
  11. informal.
    ill or physically upset

    he felt rough after an evening of heavy drinking

  12. unfair or unjust

    rough luck

  13. harsh or grating to the ear
  14. harsh to the taste
  15. without refinement, luxury, etc
  16. not polished or perfected in any detail; rudimentary; not elaborate

    rough workmanship

    rough justice

  17. not prepared or dressed

    rough gemstones

  18. (of a guess, estimate, etc) approximate
  19. informal.
    (of a chance) not good
  20. having the sound of h ; aspirated
  21. rough on informal.
    1. severe towards
    2. unfortunate for (a person)
  22. the rough side of one's tongue
    harsh words; a reprimand, rebuke, or verbal attack


  1. rough ground
  2. a sketch or preliminary piece of artwork
  3. an unfinished or crude state (esp in the phrase in the rough )
  4. the rough
    golf the part of the course bordering the fairways where the grass is untrimmed
  5. tennis squash badminton the side of a racket on which the binding strings form an uneven line
  6. informal.
    a rough or violent person; thug
  7. the unpleasant side of something (esp in the phrase take the rough with the smooth )


  1. in a rough manner; roughly
  2. sleep rough
    to spend the night in the open; be without a home or without shelter


  1. tr to make rough; roughen
  2. tr; foll by out, in, etc to prepare (a sketch, report, piece of work, etc) in preliminary form
  3. rough it informal.
    to live without the usual comforts or conveniences of life

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Derived Forms

  • ˈroughness, noun

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Other Words From

  • roughly adverb
  • roughness noun
  • over·rough adjective
  • over·roughly adverb
  • over·roughness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of rough1

First recorded before 1000; Middle English (adjective and noun); Old English rūh (adjective); cognate with Dutch ruig, German rauh

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Word History and Origins

Origin of rough1

Old English rūh ; related to Old Norse ruksa , Middle Dutch rūge, rūwe , German rauh

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. in the rough, in a rough, crude, or unfinished state:

    The country has an exciting potential, but civilization there is still in the rough.

  2. rough it, to live without the customary comforts or conveniences; endure rugged conditions:

    We really roughed it on our fishing trip.

More idioms and phrases containing rough

  • diamond in the rough
  • ride roughshod over
  • take the rough with the smooth
  • when the going gets rough

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Example Sentences

It started out rough, with several calls being dropped before everyone realized that even phone directions for public comment needed to be translated before people start providing public comments.

It’s been a rough road so far, but if there is one brightening light at the end of the tunnel, it’s that vaccinations are continuing to push forward.

While the fidelity and speed of the system are still a long way from those achieved by state-of-the-art devices, a lot of this is down to the rough and ready experimental setup the researchers used and should be possible to improve on.

Planes couldn’t fly that morning because of weather, and the water was rough.

McIlroy did not call an official after checking on his ball in the rough Saturday at the 18th hole.

Terrorism is bad news anywhere, but especially rough on Odessa, where the city motto seems to be “make love, not war.”

Gurley was gunned down on Nov. 20, when a pair of cops was patrolling the rough housing project.

Originally conceived by author Clarence E. Mulford in 1904, Hopalong was crude, rough-talking, and dangerous.

CEO Michael Lynton showed a rough cut of the movie to U.S. officials before moving ahead.

Hitchcock loved to tell stories, elaborate, complicated rough drafts for movies he would never make.

The camp grew still, except for the rough and ready cook pottering about the fire, boiling buffalo-meat and mixing biscuit-dough.

It was only a hut of rough boards, carelessly knocked together for a shepherd's temporary home.

He reached up for her big, rough straw hat that hung on a peg outside the door, and put it on her head.

England proclaimed a rough indignation at the demand for Gibraltar, which Austria had made in behalf of Spain.

The advance had to be carefully made, for the country was rough, wooded, and covered with a dense undergrowth of bushes.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




Rouget de Lisleroughage