[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.

Origin of rough-and-tumble

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

Examples from the Web for rough-and-tumble

Contemporary Examples of rough-and-tumble

Historical Examples of rough-and-tumble

  • He even moved a chair which might get underfoot in a rough-and-tumble.

  • Was there ever a rough-and-tumble that anybody could explain lucidly the morning after?

    The Pagan Madonna

    Harold MacGrath

  • This Bandy Walker was a gunman and a rough-and-tumble fighter.

    The Fighting Edge

    William MacLeod Raine

  • Percy realized that in a rough-and-tumble he would be no match for Jabe.

    Jim Spurling, Fisherman

    Albert Walter Tolman

  • He fell upon him, and a rough-and-tumble inaugurated the party.

    The Cricket

    Marjorie Cooke

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