from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A stiffly starched frilled or pleated circular collar of lace, muslin, or other fine fabric, worn by men and women in the 1500s and 1600s.
  • noun A distinctive collarlike projection around the neck, as of feathers on a bird or of fur on a mammal.
  • noun A migratory sandpiper (Philomachus pugnax) of the Eastern Hemisphere, the male of which has collarlike, erectile feathers around the neck during the breeding season.
  • noun The playing of a trump card when one cannot follow suit.
  • noun An old game resembling whist.
  • transitive & intransitive verb To trump or play a trump.
  • noun Any of several marine fishes of the family Centrolophidae, usually having spiny dorsal fins.
  • noun A small edible fish (Arripis georgianus) of coastal and estuarine waters of southern Australia.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The bird Pavoncella or Machetes pugnax (the female of which is called a reeve), a kind of sandpiper belonging to the family Scolopacidæ, having in breeding-plumage an enormous frill or ruff of feathers of peculiar texture on the neck, and noted for its pugnacity.
  • noun Accrina or Gymnocephalus cernua, a fish of the family Percidæ, distinguished by the muciferous channels of the head, the villiform teeth of the jaws, and the connected dorsal fins.
  • To plait, pucker, or wrinkle; draw up in plaits or folds.
  • . To ruffle; disorder.
  • In falconry, to hit without trussing.
  • To applaud by making a noise with hands or feet. [Scotch.]
  • noun An old game at cards, the predecessor of whist.
  • noun In card-playing, the act of trumping when the player has no cards of the suit led.
  • In card-playing, to trump when holding none of the suit led.
  • Also, erroneously, rough.
  • Same as rough.
  • noun A state of roughness; ruggedness; hence, rude or riotous procedure or conduct.
  • To heckle (flax) on a coarse heckle called a ruffer.
  • In hat-manuf., to nap.
  • noun An obsolete form of rough.
  • noun A large integumental fold surrounding the base of the foot of Haliotis, the ear-shell.
  • noun A Victorian fish, Arripis georgianus, of the family Percidæ. A. salar is the Australian fish called salmon or salmon-trout. See salmon, 3 .
  • noun A projecting band or frill, plaited or bristling, especially one worn around the neck.
  • noun Something resembling a ruff in form or position.
  • noun The loose top of the boot worn in the seventeenth century turned over and made somewhat ornamental: same as boot-top, 2 . Sometimes the top was of a different leather from the rest of the boot. Spanish leather is especially mentioned, and the edge was sometimes ornamented with gold lace or similar passement.
  • noun In machinery, an annular ridge formed on a shaft or other piece, commonly at a journal, to prevent motion endwise. Thus, in the cut, a, a are ruffs limiting the length of the journal b, to which the pillows or brasses are exactly fitted, so that the shaft is prevented from moving on end. Ruffs sometimes consist of separate rings fixed in the positions intended by set-screws, etc. They are then called loose ruffs.
  • noun . Figuratively, that which is outspread or made public; an open display; a public exhibition, generally marked by pride or vanity.
  • noun A breed of domestic pigeons; a kind of Jacobin having a ruff.
  • noun A low vibrating beat of a drum; a ruffie. See ruffle.
  • noun A dialectal form of roof.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A game similar to whist, and the predecessor of it.
  • noun The act of trumping, especially when one has no card of the suit led.
  • verb (Card Playing) To trump.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A small freshwater European perch (Acerina vulgaris); -- called also pope, blacktail, and stone perch, or striped perch.
  • transitive verb To ruffle; to disorder.
  • transitive verb (Mil.) To beat with the ruff or ruffle, as a drum.
  • transitive verb (Hawking) To hit, as the prey, without fixing it.
  • transitive verb (Card Playing) To play a trump card at bridge.
  • noun A muslin or linen collar plaited, crimped, or fluted, worn formerly by both sexes, now only by women and children.
  • noun Something formed with plaits or flutings, like the collar of this name.
  • noun An exhibition of pride or haughtiness.
  • noun obsolete Wanton or tumultuous procedure or conduct.
  • noun (Mil.) A low, vibrating beat of a drum, not so loud as a roll; a ruffle.
  • noun (Mach.) A collar on a shaft ot other piece to prevent endwise motion. See Illust. of Collar.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A set of lengthened or otherwise modified feathers round, or on, the neck of a bird.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Perhaps short for ruffle.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Of imitative origin.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Obsolete French ronfle, roffle, a kind of card game, from Old French ronfle, from renfler, to rise : re-, re- + enfler, to cause to swell (from Latin īnflāre; see inflate).]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English rowe, roffe, ruffe, any of various fishes, especially Gymnocephalus cernuus, perhaps from variant of rough, rough; see rough, or from Medieval Latin rufus, a kind of fish (perhaps from Latin rūfus, red, tawny; see rufous).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

A shortening of ruffle

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License



Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word ruff.


  • It was at dusk that the guard was changed at the Tower Gate, and a quarter of an hour before dusk Lord Arden's carriage stopped at the Tower Gate and an old nurse in ruff and cap and red cloak got out of it and lifted out two little gentlemen, one in black with a cloak trimmed with squirrel fur, which was Edred, and another, which was Richard, in grey velvet and marten's fur.

    The House of Arden Edith 1923

  • A pampered pooch gets caught up in a "ruff" - and-tumble comedy adventure in BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA, available on DVD and Blu-ray on March 3, 2009 from Walt Disney Studios Home Ent. When a diamond-clad, bootie-wearing Beverly Hills beauty gets lost on a Mexican vacation, she proves that good things really do come in small packages.

    unknown title 2009

  • Regional Force/Provincial Force units, known as ruff-puffs — which were supposed to ferret out VC or NVA cadre activities on the village level.

    Rogue Warrior Marcinko, Richard 1992

  • Woodruff, Woodroffe is too common to be referred to the plant woodruff, and the fact that the male and female of a species of sand-piper are called the ruff and reeve suggests that Woodruff may have some relation to wood-reeve.

    The Romance of Names Ernest Weekley 1909

  • This gown had long, tight, wrinkled sleeves, coming down over the hand, and finished with a ruffle of yellow lace; the neck, rounded and half-low, had a similar ruffle almost deep enough to be called a ruff; the waist, if it could be called a waist, was up under the arms: briefly, a costume of my grandmother's time.

    The Green Satin Gown Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards 1896

  • His shoulders bear epaulets of dark feathers, called the ruff, and his fan-like tail is banded and cross-barred.

    On the Trail An Outdoor Book for Girls Lina Beard 1888

  • If ever wimmen soared out in art and business, and genius, and philanthropy, and education, and religion, she does here; and from the floor to the ruff is the highest signs of her tenderness for the children, and all weak and helpless ones.

    Samantha at the World's Fair Marietta Holley 1881

  • In Dulwich Gallery there is an interesting portrait by Rubens of an elderly lady in a great Spanish ruff, which is believed to be the portrait of his mother.

    The Old Masters and Their Pictures For the Use of Schools and Learners in Art Sarah Tytler 1870

  • In regarding the falling-band as the germ of the ruff, the Water-Poet differs from those writers who, with greater appearance of reason, maintain that the ruff was the parent of the band.

    A Book About Lawyers John Cordy Jeaffreson 1866

  • As a fashion it is not so extraordinary as the hoop-skirt, or as the neck ruff, which is again rising as a background to the lovely head.

    Complete Essays Charles Dudley Warner 1864


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