[ruhf-uh ld]


(of apparel) having ruffles.

Origin of ruffled

First recorded in 1600–10; ruffle1 + -ed2



verb (used with object), ruf·fled, ruf·fling.

to destroy the smoothness or evenness of: The wind ruffled the sand.
to erect (the feathers), as a bird in anger.
to disturb, vex, or irritate: to be ruffled by a perceived slight.
to turn (the pages of a book) rapidly.
to pass (cards) through the fingers rapidly in shuffling.
to draw up (cloth, lace, etc.) into a ruffle by gathering along one edge.

verb (used without object), ruf·fled, ruf·fling.

to be or become ruffled; undulate; flutter: Flags ruffle in the wind.
to be or become vexed or irritated.
to put on airs; swagger.


a break in the smoothness or evenness of some surface; undulation.
a strip of cloth, lace, etc., drawn up by gathering along one edge and used as a trimming on a dress, blouse, etc.
some object resembling this, as the ruff of a bird.
disturbance or vexation; annoyance; irritation: It is impossible to live without some daily ruffles to our composure.
a disturbed state of mind; perturbation.

Origin of ruffle

1250–1300; Middle English ruffelen (v.); cognate with Low German ruffelen to crumple, rumple; compare Old Norse hruffa to scratch
Related formsruf·fly, adjectiveruf·fler, noun

Synonyms for ruffle

Antonyms for ruffle


[ruhf-uh l]


a low, continuous beating of a drum.

verb (used with object), ruf·fled, ruf·fling.

to beat (a drum) in this manner.

Origin of ruffle

1715–25; archaic ruff in same sense (perhaps imitative) + -le Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ruffled

Contemporary Examples of ruffled

Historical Examples of ruffled

  • His fingers had ruffled his hair into a dissipated untidiness.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • Finally he extricated himself, ruffled, breathless, but still talking.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • Then she smoothed out her ruffled frock, and patted her hair into its place.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Then she put her hand up and stroked his cheek and ruffled his hair.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Observe how Emerson is wriggled and ruffled in this crushing crowd.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

British Dictionary definitions for ruffled




to make, be, or become irregular or rumpledto ruffle a child's hair; a breeze ruffling the water
to annoy, irritate, or be annoyed or irritated
(tr) to make into a ruffle; pleat
(of a bird) to erect (its feathers) in anger, display, etc
(tr) to flick (cards, pages, etc) rapidly with the fingers


an irregular or disturbed surface
a strip of pleated material used for decoration or as a trim
zoology another name for ruff 1 (def. 2)
annoyance or irritation

Word Origin for ruffle

C13: of Germanic origin; compare Middle Low German ruffelen to crumple, Old Norse hrufla to scratch




a low continuous drumbeat


(tr) to beat (a drum) with a low repetitive beat

Word Origin for ruffle

C18: from earlier ruff, of imitative origin




(intr) archaic to behave riotously or arrogantly; swagger

Word Origin for ruffle

C15: of obscure origin
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 ruffled



early 14c., "to disturb the smoothness of," perhaps from Old Norse hrufla "to scratch," or Low German ruffelen "to wrinkle, curl," both of unknown origin. Meaning "disarrange" (hair or feathers) first recorded late 15c.; sense of "annoy, distract" is from 1650s. Related: Ruffled; ruffling.



"ornamental frill," 1707, from ruffle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper