• synonyms


See more synonyms for ruff on Thesaurus.com
  1. a neckpiece or collar of lace, lawn, or the like, gathered or drawn into deep, full, regular folds, worn in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  2. something resembling such a piece in form or position.
  3. a collar, or set of lengthened or specially marked hairs or feathers, on the neck of an animal.
  4. Ornithology. a species of European and Asian sandpiper, Philomachus pugnax, the male of which has a large erectile ruff of feathers during the breeding season.Compare reeve3.
  5. Alaska and Northern Canada. a fringe of fur around the edge of a parka hood or along the edges of a jacket.
Show More
verb (used with object)
  1. tease(def 3).
Show More

Origin of ruff1

First recorded in 1515–25; perhaps back formation from ruffle1
Related formsruff·like, adjective
Can be confusedrough ruff


  1. an act or instance of trumping when one cannot follow suit.
  2. an old game of cards, resembling whist.
Show More
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to trump when unable to follow suit.
Show More

Origin of ruff2

1580–90; probably < French ro(u)ffle; cognate with Italian ronfa a card game, probably < German Trumpf trump1


  1. a small European freshwater fish, Acerina cernua, of the perch family.
Show More

Origin of ruff3

1400–50; Middle English ruf, roffe; perhaps special use of rough
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for ruff

Historical Examples

  • Who would wear for every sigh Blood's red flower upon his ruff?

    Enamels and Cameos and other Poems

    Thophile Gautier

  • He was sitting in uniform on the other side of the fire, reading Ruff's Guide.

  • Ruff with left alone, especially with your partner's make or adoption.

  • The ruff, Machetes pugnax, was believed by Montague to be polygamous.

  • Miss Ruff saw how Lady Longspade passed on, but she was nothing disconcerted.

    The Bertrams

    Anthony Trollope

British Dictionary definitions for ruff


  1. a circular pleated, gathered, or fluted collar of lawn, muslin, etc, often starched or wired, worn by both men and women in the 16th and 17th centuries
  2. zoology a natural growth of long or coloured hair or feathers around the necks of certain animals or birds
    1. an Old World shore bird, Philomachus pugnax, the male of which has a large erectile ruff of feathers in the breeding season: family Scolopacidae (sandpipers, etc), order Charadriiformes
    2. the male of this birdCompare reeve 3
Show More
Derived Formsrufflike, adjective

Word Origin

C16: back formation from ruffle 1


noun cards
  1. another word for trump 1
  2. an old card game similar to whist
Show More
  1. cards another word for trump 1 (def. 4)
Show More

Word Origin

C16: from Old French roffle; perhaps changed from Italian trionfa trump 1


  1. another name for roughie 1
Show More
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 ruff


kind of large collar, stiffly starched, especially common in the seventeenth century, 1520s, originally in reference to sleeves (of collars, from 1550s), probably a shortened form of ruffle.

Card-playing sense is a separate word, from a former game of that name (1580s), from Middle French roffle, earlier romfle (early 15c.), from Italian ronfa, perhaps a corruption of trionfo "triumph" (from French; cf. trump). The game was in vogue c.1590-1630.

Show More


in cards, 1760, from ruff (n.). Related: Ruffed; ruffing.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper