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

  • adjective Having a surface marked by irregularities, protuberances, or ridges; not smooth.
  • adjective Coarse or shaggy to the touch.
  • adjective Difficult to travel over or through.
  • adjective Characterized by violent motion; turbulent.
  • adjective Difficult to endure or live through, especially because of harsh or inclement weather.
  • adjective Unpleasant or difficult.
  • adjective Characterized by or done with violence or forcefulness.
  • adjective Boisterous, disorderly, or given to violence.
  • adjective Characterized by violence or crime.
  • adjective Lacking polish or finesse.
  • adjective Harsh to the ear.
  • adjective Being in a natural state.
  • adjective Not perfected, completed, or fully detailed.
  • noun The surface or part of something that is uneven or coarse.
  • noun Rugged overgrown terrain.
  • noun Sports The area of a golf hole in which the grass is left unmowed or is cut to a length longer than that of the fairway.
  • noun A disorderly, unrefined, or unfinished state.
  • noun A difficult or disagreeable aspect or condition of something.
  • noun A person given to violent or disorderly behavior; a rowdy.
  • transitive verb To treat roughly or with physical violence.
  • transitive verb Sports To treat (an opposing player) with unnecessary roughness, often in violation of the rules.
  • transitive verb To prepare or indicate in an unfinished form.
  • adverb In a rough manner; roughly.
  • idiom (rough it) To live without the usual comforts and conveniences.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make rough; give a rough condition or appearance to; roughen: as, to rough a horse's shoes to prevent slipping.
  • To execute or shape out roughly; finish partially or in the rough; prepare for a finishing operation: as, to rough out building-stones.
  • To break in a horse, especially for military use.
  • To behave roughly; specifically, to break the rules in boxing by too much roughness.
  • noun A rowdy; a ruffian; a rude, coarse fellow; one given to riotous violence; a bully.
  • noun [In a foot-note Scaramelli is quoted to the effect that the word signifies in English “persona bassa e vile.”]
  • A bad spelling of ruff.
  • In hat-manuf., to compact (the felt) by moisture, heat, and pressure.
  • To expose to winter weather, as cattle; permit to run at large during the winter.
  • Roughly; in a coarse, crude, or harsh manner.
  • Not smooth to the touch or to the sight; uneven, from projections, ridges, wrinkles, or the like; broken in outline or continuity by protruding points or lines, irregularities, or obstructions; shaggy: as, a rough surface of any kind; rough land; a rough road; rough cloth.
  • Not smoothed or formed by art; existing or left in a natural or an incomplete state; crude; unwrought; uneven; untrimmed: as, the rough materials of manufacture.
  • Rugged in form, outline, or appearance; harsh or unpleasing to the eye; irregular.
  • Crudely done or considered; indefinitely approximate; vague; partial; careless; hasty: as, to make a rough estimate or calculation; at a rough guess.
  • Characterized by harshness or asperity; disagreeably severe or coarse; discordant: used of things and actions with reference to their effects upon the senses or feelings, actions, sounds, etc.: as, rough weather; a rough remedy; rough treatment.
  • Lacking refinement; rude in character or action; unpolished; untrained; uncouth; awkward: as, rough kindness or attendance; a rough backwoodsman.
  • Characterized by violent or disorderly action or movement; rudely agitated or disturbed; boisterously violent; unrestrained: as, rough water; rough play.
  • Coarse; stale: as, rough bread; rough fish.
  • Astringent: said of wines or other beverages: as, a rough claret.
  • In botany, same as scabrous.


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

[Middle English, from Old English rūh.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English rūh, from Proto-Germanic *rūhaz, cognate with West Frisian rûch ("rough"), Low Saxon (Low German) ruuch ("rough"), High German rau ("rough"), (old spelling) rauh ("rough"), Middle High German rûch ("rough"), (variants) rûhe, rûh, rouch.


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  • "A burly rough pursues with booted strides. He stumbles on the steps, recovers, plunges into gloom. "

    Joyce, Ulysses, 15

    January 28, 2007

  • How can a word so similar to dough, though etc. be pronounced the way it is pronounced?

    August 22, 2008

  • That's English fer ya. ;-)

    August 22, 2008

  • Enough! Don't even bring bough into it.

    August 22, 2008

  • Yeah, it's tough.

    August 22, 2008