Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search




Etymology 1[edit]

Possibly of North Germanic/Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish skuff (a push) and skuffa (to push), from the Proto-Germanic base *skuf- (skuƀ), from Proto-Indo-European *skewbʰ-, see also Lithuanian skùbti (to hurry), Polish skubać (to pluck), Albanian humb (to lose).


scuffle (plural scuffles)

  1. A rough, disorderly fight or struggle at close quarters.
    • 1692, Roger L'Estrange, “Fab[le] CCCCLXX. A Farmer and His Servant.”, in Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists: With Morals and Reflexions, London: Printed for R[ichard] Sare, T. Sawbridge, B. Took, M[atthew] Gillyflower, A. & J. Churchil, and J[oseph] Hindmarsh, OCLC 12706417; 2nd corrected and amended edition, London: Printed for R[ichard] Sare, B. Took, M[atthew] Gillyflower, A. & J. Churchil, J[oseph] Hindmarsh, and G[eorge] Sawbridge, 1694, OCLC 606109080, page 435:
      The Dog leaps upon the Serpent, and Tears it to Pieces; but in the Scuffle the Cradle happen'd to be Overturn'd: []
    • 1899 February, Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness”, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, volume CLXV, number M, New York, N.Y.: The Leonard Scott Publishing Company, [], OCLC 1042815524, part I, page 198:
      It appears the Company had received news that one of their captains had been killed in a scuffle with the natives.
    • 2016 June 11, Phil McNulty, “England 1–1 Russia”, in BBC Sport[1], archived from the original on 13 June 2016:
      Fights ensued as many England supporters attempted to retreat before some stewards moved in. Intermittent scuffles continued to break out until the section of the crowd where the trouble started was vacated.
  2. (slang) Poverty; struggle.
    • 1975, Joni Mitchell (lyrics and music), “The Boho Dance”, in The Hissing of Summer Lawns:
      But even on the scuffle / The cleaner's press was in my jeans
  3. (archaic) A child's pinafore or bib.
Derived terms[edit]


scuffle (third-person singular simple present scuffles, present participle scuffling, simple past and past participle scuffled)

  1. (intransitive) To fight or struggle confusedly at close quarters.
  2. (intransitive) To walk with a shuffling gait.
  3. (slang) To make a living with difficulty, getting by on a low income, to struggle financially.
    • 1946, Mezz Mezzrow; Bernard Wolfe, Really the Blues, New York: Random House, page 208:
      Once a good friend of mine, a fine hoofer who was having trouble getting bookings, ran up to that tree, gave it a big smack, and yelled “Lawd please make me a pimp, any kind of a pimp, long as I’m pimpin’. I’m tired of scufflin’ and my feet are too long outa work.”

Etymology 2[edit]

A borrowing from Dutch schoffel.


scuffle (plural scuffles)

  1. A Dutch hoe, manipulated by both pushing and pulling.