Try Our Apps


What is the origin of "December"?


[gruhf] /grʌf/
adjective, gruffer, gruffest.
low and harsh; hoarse:
a gruff voice.
rough, brusque, or surly:
a gruff manner.
Origin of gruff
1525-35; < Middle Dutch grof coarse; cognate with German grob
Related forms
gruffish, adjective
gruffly, adverb
gruffness, noun
ungruff, adjective
2. curt.
2. courteous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for gruff
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The voice in which he made this threat was gruff and aggressive.

    The Pace That Kills Edgar Saltus
  • "I want to say good-bye," he said in the gruff voice of embarrassment.

    The Friendly Road (AKA David Grayson) Ray Stannard Baker
  • "I guess you'll excuse me if I ain't down there to stand around on the w'arf and see you go," she said, still trying to be gruff.

  • “A little faster, youngster,” urged Bogle, in a gruff voice.

    The Camp in the Snow William Murray Graydon
  • He pushed it open, but a gruff voice inquired his business, and a burly figure blocked his way.

    Ghetto Comedies Israel Zangwill
British Dictionary definitions for gruff


rough or surly in manner, speech, etc: a gruff reply
(of a voice, bark, etc) low and throaty
Derived Forms
gruffish, adjective
gruffly, adverb
gruffness, noun
Word Origin
C16: originally Scottish, from Dutch grof, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German girob; related to Old English hrēof, Lithuanian kraupùs
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for gruff

1530s, "coarse, coarse-grained," from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German grof "coarse (in quality), thick, large," of uncertain origin, regarded by some as related to Old English hreof, Old Norse hrjufr "rough, scabby," with Germanic completive prefix ga-. Sense of "rough, surly" recorded by 1690s. Related: Gruffness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Word Value for gruff

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for gruff