[ruhf-uh n-tuhm-buh l]


characterized by violent, random, disorderly action and struggles: a rough-and-tumble fight; He led an adventuresome, rough-and-tumble life.
given to such action.


rough and unrestrained competition, fighting, struggling, etc.

Nearby words

  1. rough spin,
  2. rough stuff,
  3. rough trade,
  4. rough up,
  5. rough-and-ready,
  6. rough-cut,
  7. rough-dry,
  8. rough-hew,
  9. rough-hewn,
  10. rough-house

Origin of rough-and-tumble

First recorded in 1785–95 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for rough and tumble



a fight or scuffle without rules


characterized by roughness, disorderliness, and disregard for rules or conventions
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

Idioms and Phrases with rough and tumble

rough and tumble

Disorderly scuffling or infighting, as in She had some reservations about entering the rough and tumble of local politics. This expression originated in the late 1700s in boxing, where it referred to a fight without rules. [Mid-1800s]

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