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kind of large collar, stiffly starched, especially common in the seventeenth century, 1520s, originally in reference to sleeves (of collars, from 1550s), probably a shortened form of ruffle.
Card-playing sense is a separate word, from a former game of that name (1580s), from Middle French roffle, earlier romfle (early 15c.), from Italian ronfa, perhaps a corruption of trionfo "triumph" (from French; cf. trump). The game was in vogue c.1590-1630.
in cards, 1760, from ruff (n.). Related: Ruffed; ruffing.
in zoology, Old World bird (Philomachus pugnax), of the sandpiper subfamily Calidritinae (family Scolopacidae) remarkable for its courtship plumage and behaviour. The name ruff applies to the species or may be applied to the male only. In spring the 30-centimetre (12-inch) male acquires a double crest ("cape") and a collar ("ruff"); these may contain reddish, brown, black, and white feathers in proportions that vary with the individual (the most extreme case of polymorphism known among birds). The female, called the reeve, is only about 25 centimetres (10 inches) long and is plain grayish brown, as is the male in winter. In the breeding season males gather on a traditional display area (lek), usually a bare hill, and, while the reeves watch, display close together by making short rushes with cape and ruff erect and wings drooping. When a reeve strolls into their midst the males collapse, quivering, with bills stuck into the ground. Then the female chooses one of the males. She builds a nest, incubates the eggs, and raises the chicks alone. The sexes keep apart, even in flocks (further evidence of the extreme dimorphism of the species)