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See also: Gruff



  • IPA(key): /ɡɹʌf/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌf

Etymology 1[edit]

From West Flemish and Dutch grof (rude, coarse, rough), from Middle Dutch grof (coarse), from Old Dutch *grof, of uncertain formation and relation, yet undoubtedly cognate with Saterland Frisian groaf (rough, coarse, crude), West Frisian grof (rough, coarse, crude), Low German groff (rough, coarse, crude), German grob (rough, coarse, crude), Swedish grov (rough, coarse, crude).

Perhaps originating from Proto-West Germanic *gahrob, from Proto-Germanic *gahrubaz, *hrubaz, related to Proto-Germanic *hreubaz (scabby, rough, scrubby) or alternatively from Proto-West Germanic *grob, from Proto-Germanic *grubaz (coarse, rough).


gruff (comparative gruffer, superlative gruffest)

  1. having a rough, surly, and harsh demeanor and nature.
  2. hoarse-voiced.
    a gruff woman
  3. hoarse.
    a gruff voice
  • 1727 "The manner of it was more after the pleasing Transports of those ancient Poets you are often charm'd with, than after the fierce unsociable way of modern Zealots; those starch'd gruff Gentlemen, who guard Religion as Bullys to a Mistress, and give us the while a very indifferent Opinion of their Lady's Merit, and their own Wit, by adoring what they neither allow to be inspected by others, nor care themselves to examine in a fair light." — Anthony Ashley Cooper Shaftesbury. Characteristicks of men, manners, opinions, times. Vol II. p218
  • 1729 "They had no Titles of Honour among them, but such as denoted some Bodily Strength or Perfection, as such an one the Tall, such an one the Stocky, such an one the Gruff." — Joseph Addison, Richard Steele. The Spectator. Vol VI, No 433. p146
  • 1825 "Mr. Suberville, as well as she, surprised and pleased at this proof of politeness so unsuited to his gouty appearance and gruff manners, looked at him in astonishment, but were sorry to perceive him stoop down as if he had strained his leg in the exertion, while the pain it caused seemed to have driven every drop of his blood into his sallow face." — Thomas Colley Grattan. High-ways and by-ways. Vol III. p209-10
Derived terms[edit]


gruff (third-person singular simple present gruffs, present participle gruffing, simple past and past participle gruffed)

  1. To speak gruffly.
    • 2001, Benny Hinn, He Touched Me: An Autobiography:
      “Who gave you that?” replied my father angrily. “Did you bribe someone?” “No,” I told him. “It was a gift, from some people who really want me to be on this trip.” “Fine,” he gruffed.

Etymology 2[edit]

Perhaps related to Dutch grof (rough, coarse).



  1. (British India) Of goods: bulky.
    • 1765, John Zephaniah Holwell, Interesting Historical Events..., page 194:
      [] articles that usually compose the gruff cargoes of our outward bound shipping.
    • quoted in 1869, James Long, Selections from Unpublished Records of Government... (page 171)
      [] which by causing a great export of rice enhances the price of labour, and consequently of all other gruff, piece-goods and raw silk []



Deverbal from gruffa.


gruff n

  1. argument, quarrel


Declension of gruff 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative gruff gruffet gruff gruffen
Genitive gruffs gruffets gruffs gruffens