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

  • adj. Brusque or stern in manner or appearance: a gruff reply.
  • adj. Hoarse; harsh: a gruff voice.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. having a rough, surly, or harsh nature.
  • adj. hoarse voiced.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of a rough or stern manner, voice, or countenance; sour; surly; severe; harsh.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Rough or stern in manner, voice, or countenance; surly; severe; harsh.
  • n. In pharmacy, the coarse residue which will not pass through the sieve in pulverization.
  • n. In mining, a pit or shaft.
  • n. Crude or impure saltpeter, as imported from India.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. brusque and surly and forbidding
  • adj. deep and harsh sounding as if from shouting or illness or emotion


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

Dutch grof, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle Dutch grof ("coarse")


  • First Impression: Harley is described as a gruff, nasty, and rebellious biker.

    5-Star Baby Name Advisor

  • At first Robber Mother answered in short, gruff sentences, but by degrees she became more subdued and listened more intently.

    Christmas in Legend and Story A Book for Boys and Girls

  • Mr. Richard seemed to be denying or refusing something in short gruff gasps of breath.

    The Dew of Their Youth

  • "Make room there," called a gruff voice, not far distant.

    With Those Who Wait

  • He stumbled over a box that he had missed before, swore, and called a gruff hello.


  • I re-called the gruff warning Bezers -- even Bezers, and there was something very odd in Bezers giving a warning!

    The House of the Wolf; a romance

  • "Halloo, who's that?" called a gruff voice from the darkness, the hail proving more startling than the first surprise.

    Cowmen and Rustlers A Story of the Wyoming Cattle Ranges

  • "Come in!" called a gruff voice, and feeling very much as if he were going to have a tooth out, Ben meekly followed the good woman, who put on her pleasantest smile, anxious to make the best possible impression.

    St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, Vol. 5, January 1878, No. 3

  • She was plain-featured, and had rather a severe expression on her face; her dress was as rich as any morning dress could be; her voice deep and unmodulated, -- what in a lower rank of life would have been called gruff; but that was not a word to apply to Lady Cuxhaven, the eldest daughter of the earl and countess.

    Wives and Daughters

  • Dan Lauria, who may be most widely known as the gruff dad on the TV series "The Wonder Years," will play Lombardi.


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