[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 tussling

Contemporary Examples of tussling

Historical Examples of tussling

  • They were tussling together, and we flung ourselves on them and separated them.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • In tussling with Lew I had gotten blood on my coat, pants, and shirt.

    The Criminal Imbecile

    Henry Herbert Goddard

  • Mallory and the big deputy stood with their backs to the Treasurer's door, tussling with three burly ruffians.

    The Short Line War

    Samuel Merwin

  • So, my boy, that is why I keep you tussling with cross-country work while the others are on the track.

    For the Honor of the School

    Ralph Henry Barbour

  • Whilst we were tussling I slipped in a cartridge and pulled the trigger—the muzzle was against his breast, and he fell dead.

British Dictionary definitions for tussling



(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 tussling



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