a rough, coarse person; a tough.
any laborer working on an oil-drilling rig.Compare roustabout(def 4).

verb (used without object)

to work as a roughneck.

Origin of roughneck

An Americanism dating back to 1830–40; rough + neck Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for roughneck

ruffian, tough, bully, punk, rowdy, hood

Examples from the Web for roughneck

Contemporary Examples of roughneck

Historical Examples of roughneck

British Dictionary definitions for roughneck


noun slang

a rough or violent person; thug
a worker in an oil-drilling operation
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 roughneck

also rough-neck, 1836, "rugged individual," from rough (adj.) + neck (n.). Original context is the Texas frontier, later adpoted to labor organization toughs. Specific sense of "oil rig worker" is recorded from 1917. Cf. redneck.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper