• synonyms


See more synonyms for scruff on Thesaurus.com
  1. the nape or back of the neck.
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Origin of scruff1

1780–90; variant of dial. scuff, scuft < Dutch schoft horse's withers


noun Metallurgy.
  1. (in tin-plating) dross formed in the bath.
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Origin of scruff2

metathetic variant of scurf
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

froth, collar, residue, crust, dross, spume, waste, algae, film, scruff, strait, cape, cervix, nape, isthmus

Examples from the Web for scruff

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • And with that he seized me again by the scruff of the neck and shook me.

    Hidden Hand

    Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth

  • So we adopted a more pressing plan, and coaxed him out by the scruff of his neck.

    Novel Notes

    Jerome K. Jerome

  • She came to and tried to bite me, but I had her by the scruff of the neck and she couldn't.

    IT and Other Stories

    Gouverneur Morris

  • When dinner-time came we had to be dragged in by the scruff of our necks.

    Dream Days

    Kenneth Grahame

  • Bucky would drag you back by the scruff of the neck in two weeks.

    Crooked Trails and Straight

    William MacLeod Raine

British Dictionary definitions for scruff


  1. the nape of the neck (esp in the phrase by the scruff of the neck)
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Word Origin

C18: variant of scuft, perhaps from Old Norse skoft hair; related to Old High German scuft


  1. informal an untidy scruffy person
  2. informal a disreputable person, ruffian
  3. another name for scum (def. 3)
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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 scruff


"nape of the neck," 1790, altered (by influence of scruff "crust") from scuft (1787), probably related to North Frisian skuft "back of the neck of a horse" and Dutch schoft "withers of a horse," from a common Germanic source (cf. Old Norse skopt "hair of the head," Gothic skuft, Middle High German schopf, German Schopf). Another theory holds it to be a variant of scurf.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper