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See also: rüffle


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From Middle English ruffelen, perhaps from Old Norse hrufla (to graze, scratch) or Middle Low German ruffelen (to wrinkle, curl). Further origin unknown. Related to Middle Dutch ruyffelen, German Low German ruffeln. See English ruff.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹʌfəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌfəl


ruffle (plural ruffles)

  1. Any gathered or curled strip of fabric added as trim or decoration.
    She loved the dress with the lace ruffle at the hem.
    • 1977, Agatha Christie, chapter 4, in An Autobiography, part II, London: Collins, →ISBN:
      Mind you, clothes were clothes in those days. []   Frills, ruffles, flounces, lace, complicated seams and gores: not only did they sweep the ground and have to be held up in one hand elegantly as you walked along, but they had little capes or coats or feather boas.
  2. Disturbance; agitation; commotion.
    to put the mind in a ruffle
  3. (military) A low, vibrating beat of a drum, quieter than a roll; a ruff[1].
  4. (zoology) The connected series of large egg capsules, or oothecae, of several species of American marine gastropods of the genus Fulgur.




ruffle (third-person singular simple present ruffles, present participle ruffling, simple past and past participle ruffled)

  1. (transitive) To make a ruffle in; to curl or flute, as an edge of fabric.
    Ruffle the end of the cuff.
  2. (transitive) To disturb; especially, to cause to flutter.
    The wind ruffled the papers.
    Her sudden volley of insults ruffled his composure.
    • 2018 February 24, Paul Rees, “Finn Russell masterminds historic Scotland victory over England”, in The Guardian[1], London, archived from the original on 22 April 2018:
      [Finn] Russell created his side’s three first-half tries, ruffling a defence known for its composure, and dictated the match from the off.
    • 1832, Isaac Taylor, Saturday Evening
      the fantastic revelries [] that so often ruffled the placid bosom of the Nile
    • 1860, Sir William Hamilton, Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet
      These ruffle the tranquillity of the mind.
    • 1697, “Palamon and Arcite”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 403869432:
      She [] smoothed the ruffled seas.
    • 1859, Alfred Tennyson, Guinevere
  3. (intransitive) To grow rough, boisterous, or turbulent.
  4. (intransitive) To become disordered; to play loosely; to flutter.
    • 1697, “Georgic III”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 403869432:
      On his right shoulder his thick mane ', / Ruffles at speed, and dances in the wind.
  5. (intransitive) To be rough; to jar; to be in contention; hence, to put on airs; to swagger.
  6. To make into a ruff; to draw or contract into puckers, plaits, or folds; to wrinkle.
  7. To erect in a ruff, as feathers.
  8. (military) To beat with the ruff or ruffle, as a drum.
  9. To throw together in a disorderly manner.


Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ 1863, Henry Lee Scott, Military Dictionary