[noun ruhf-hous; verb ruhf-hous, -houz]

noun, plural rough·hous·es [ruhf-hou-ziz] /ˈrʌfˌhaʊ zɪz/.

rough, disorderly playing, especially indoors.

verb (used without object), rough·housed [ruhf-houst, -houzd] /ˈrʌfˌhaʊst, -ˌhaʊzd/, rough·hous·ing [ruhf-hou-sing, -zing] /ˈrʌfˌhaʊ sɪŋ, -zɪŋ/.

to engage in rough, disorderly play.

verb (used with object), rough·housed [ruhf-houst, -houzd] /ˈrʌfˌhaʊst, -ˌhaʊzd/, rough·hous·ing [ruhf-hou-sing, -zing] /ˈrʌfˌhaʊ sɪŋ, -zɪŋ/.

to handle roughly but with playful intent: to roughhouse the cat.

Origin of roughhouse

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90; rough + house Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rough-house

Historical Examples of rough-house

  • By this we mean what can in nowise be so clearly defined as by "rough-house."

    The Dramatic Values in Plautus

    Wilton Wallace Blancke

  • Nana insisted it was a bruise that Leonie had given her when they were having a bit of a rough-house.


    Emile Zola

  • "Nice work, Chief--it must be a gift to rough-house the way you do," Bradley exclaimed.


    Edward Elmer Smith

  • In about two seconds there was the biggest kind of a rough-house.

  • My father had saved his life one rough-house night in Valparaiso.

    A Son Of The Sun

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for rough-house



rough, disorderly, or noisy behaviour


to treat (someone) in a boisterous or rough way
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 rough-house

1887, "uproar, disturbance," from rough (adj.) + house (n.). The verb is first attested 1896. Related: Rough-housing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper