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From Middle English rough, roughe, roȝe, row, rou, ru, ruȝ, ruh, from Old English rūg, rūh, from Proto-Germanic *rūhaz. Cognate with Scots ruch, rouch (rough), Saterland Frisian ruuch, rouch (rough), West Frisian rûch (rough), Low German ruuch (rough), Dutch ruig (rough), German rau(h) (rough), Danish ru (uneven on the surface, "rough", "rugged").



rough (comparative rougher, superlative roughest)

  1. Not smooth; uneven.
    • 1922 October 26, Virginia Woolf, chapter 1, in Jacob’s Room, Richmond, London: [] Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, →OCLC; republished London: The Hogarth Press, 1960, →OCLC:
      The rock was one of those tremendously solid brown, or rather black, rocks which emerge from the sand like something primitive. Rough with crinkled limpet shells and sparsely strewn with locks of dry seaweed, a small boy has to stretch his legs far apart, and indeed to feel rather heroic, before he gets to the top.
  2. Approximate; hasty or careless; not finished.
    a rough estimate
    a rough sketch of a building
    a rough plan
  3. Turbulent.
    rough sea
  4. Difficult; trying.
    Being a teenager nowadays can be rough.
  5. Crude; unrefined.
    His manners are a bit rough, but he means well.
  6. Worn; shabby; weather-beaten.
  7. (of a place) Having socio-economic problems, hence possibly dangerous.
    the rough bit of town
  8. Violent; not careful or subtle.
    This box has been through some rough handling.
  9. Loud and hoarse; offensive to the ear; harsh; grating.
    a rough tone
    a rough voice
  10. (of a gem) Not polished; uncut.
  11. Harsh-tasting.
    rough wine
  12. (chiefly UK, colloquial, slang) Somewhat ill; sick; in poor condition.
  13. (chiefly UK, colloquial, slang) Unwell due to alcohol; hungover.


Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


rough (plural roughs)

  1. The unmowed part of a golf course.
  2. A rude fellow; a coarse bully; a rowdy.
    • 1898, H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, London: William Heinemann, page 124:
      In Wellington Street my brother met a couple of sturdy roughs, who had just rushed out of Fleet Street with still wet newspapers and staring placards. "Dreadful catastrophe!" they bawled one to the other down Wellington Street. "Fighting at Weybridge!"
  3. (cricket) A scuffed and roughened area of the pitch, where the bowler's feet fall, used as a target by spin bowlers because of its unpredictable bounce.
  4. The raw material from which faceted or cabochon gems are created.
  5. A quick sketch, similar to a thumbnail but larger and more detailed, used for artistic brainstorming.
  6. (obsolete) Boisterous weather.
    • 1633, Phineas Fletcher, Eclog 1. Amyntas:
      In calms you fish; in roughs use songs and dances.
  7. A piece inserted in a horseshoe to keep the animal from slipping.

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rough (third-person singular simple present roughs, present participle roughing, simple past and past participle roughed)

  1. To create in an approximate form.
    • 1907, Ronald M. Burrows, The Discoveries In Crete, page 90:
      On the floor, one beside the other, stood two amphoræ of veined marble-like limestone; one a huge vase 2 feet high and more than 6 feet round, finished and perfect, with two splendid spiral bands; and the other a smaller vase, of the same type, but only just roughed out of the block.
    Rough in the shape first, then polish the details.
  2. (boxing, wrestling, intransitive) To break the rules by being excessively violent.
    • 1938, California. State Athletic Commission, Rules, Regulations and Law Regulating Boxing and Wrestling (page 42)
      [] roughing is not a part of the sport, and will not be tolerated. Referees will not permit unfair practices that may cause injury to a contestant, and are held strictly responsible for enforcing these rules.
  3. (ice hockey) To commit the offense of roughing, i.e. to punch another player.
  4. To render rough; to roughen.
  5. To break in (a horse, etc.), especially for military purposes.
    • 1802, Charles James, A New and Enlarged Military Dictionary:
      To Rough Horses, a word in familiar use among the dragoons to signify the act of breaking in horses, so as to adapt them to military purposes.
  6. To endure primitive conditions.
    to rough it
    • 1920, Katherine Mansfield [pseudonym; Kathleen Mansfield Murry], “The Escape”, in Bliss and Other Stories, London: Constable & Company, published 1920, →OCLC, page 280:
      [] Oh, but my husband is never so happy as when he is travelling. He likes roughing it. . . . My husband. . . . My husband. . . .”
    • 2013, Anne-Marie K. Kittiphanh, If Life Gave Me LEMONS, I Would Turn It into HONEY, →ISBN:
      I was able to help Trudy set up camp and everything else, of course there are different ways to camp the usual comfortable way or roughed we of course roughed it and I did my best to keep warm.
  7. (transitive) To roughen a horse's shoes to keep the animal from slipping.

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rough (comparative more rough, superlative most rough)

  1. In a rough manner; rudely; roughly.

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