Denotation vs. Connotation


[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.
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Examples from the Web for gruffly
Historical Examples
  • Herriot looked up and called him gruffly but not unkindly, the boy thought.

    The Black Buccaneer Stephen W. Meader
  • "I have been waiting this time back," said Hordle John gruffly.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • He had not gone a dozen paces before a sentry levelled his rifle and gruffly commanded him to halt.

    Fighting in Flanders E. Alexander Powell
  • "Nonsense," the giant said gruffly, to hide his own misgivings.

    Slaves of Mercury Nat Schachner
  • Noting her mood, Whaley gruffly took up the letter and, adjusting his black-rimmed nose-glasses, he read it.

    The Cottage of Delight Will N. Harben
  • Hugh drew his sleeve across his lips, and gruffly answered yes.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • "You might have been better employed," said John Minute gruffly.

    The Man Who Knew Edgar Wallace
  • He gruffly bade the animal "gid-dap" and appeared a trifle confused.

    Thankful's Inheritance Joseph C. Lincoln
  • In a moment all the events of the unlucky morning came back to her, and his gruffly unfavourable opinion.

  • "I don't want to hear you," broke in the second voice, gruffly.

    Galusha the Magnificent Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for gruffly


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
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Word Origin and History for gruffly

1700, from gruff + -ly (2).



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
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