[tuhs-uh l]

verb (used without object), tus·sled, tus·sling.

to struggle or fight roughly or vigorously; wrestle; scuffle.


a rough physical contest or struggle; scuffle.
any vigorous or determined struggle, conflict, etc.: I had quite a tussle with that chemistry exam.

Origin of tussle

1425–75; late Middle English (north and Scots) tusillen, derivative (see -le) of tusen to touse
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tussle

Contemporary Examples of tussle

Historical Examples of tussle

  • Jim-the-ladder has been a prize-fighter in his day, and there was a tussle.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • Just a bit of a tussle now and then to keep you from dropping off.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • Lydia didn't want him to tussle, but she did want him at the top.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • I came upon it from a tussle with the sea—and I was young—and I saw it looking at me.


    Joseph Conrad

  • Then, perhaps, there might be a tussle between them as to which should have his own way,—or hers.

    Kept in the Dark

    Anthony Trollope

British Dictionary definitions for tussle



(intr) to fight or wrestle in a vigorous way; struggle


a vigorous fight; scuffle; struggle

Word Origin for tussle

C15: related to Old High German zūsen; see tousle
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 tussle

late 15c., Scottish and northern English variant of touselen (see tousle). Related: Tussled; tussling. The noun is first recorded 1620s but rare before 19c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper