1 [ruhf]
a neckpiece or collar of lace, lawn, or the like, gathered or drawn into deep, full, regular folds, worn in the 16th and 17th centuries.
something resembling such a piece in form or position.
a collar, or set of lengthened or specially marked hairs or feathers, on the neck of an animal.
Ornithology. a species of European and Asian sandpiper, Philomachus pugnax, the male of which has a large erectile ruff of feathers during the breeding season. Compare reeve3.
Alaska and Northern Canada. a fringe of fur around the edge of a parka hood or along the edges of a jacket.
verb (used with object)
tease ( def 3 ).

1515–25; perhaps back formation from ruffle1

rufflike, adjective Unabridged


2 [ruhf] Cards.
an act or instance of trumping when one cannot follow suit.
an old game of cards, resembling whist.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to trump when unable to follow suit.

1580–90; probably < French ro(u)ffle; cognate with Italian ronfa a card game, probably < German Trumpf trump1


3 [ruhf]
a small European freshwater fish, Acerina cernua, of the perch family.

1400–50; Middle English ruf, roffe; perhaps special use of rough Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
ruff1 (rʌf)
1.  a circular pleated, gathered, or fluted collar of lawn, muslin, etc, often starched or wired, worn by both men and women in the 16th and 17th centuries
2.  zoology a natural growth of long or coloured hair or feathers around the necks of certain animals or birds
3.  a.  an Old World shore bird, Philomachus pugnax, the male of which has a large erectile ruff of feathers in the breeding season: family Scolopacidae (sandpipers, etc), order Charadriiformes
 b.  Compare reeve the male of this bird
[C16: back formation from ruffle1]

ruff2 (rʌf)
1.  another word for trump
2.  an old card game similar to whist
3.  cards another word for trump
[C16: from Old French roffle; perhaps changed from Italian trionfatrump1]

ruff3 (rʌf)
another name for roughie

ruffe or ruff (rʌf)
Also called: pope a European freshwater teleost fish, Acerina cernua, having a single spiny dorsal fin: family Percidae (perches)
[C15: perhaps an alteration of rough (referring to its scales)]
ruff or ruff
[C15: perhaps an alteration of rough (referring to its scales)]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"kind of large collar, stiffly starched, worn in 17c.," 1523, originally in ref. to sleeves (of collars, from 1555), probably a shortened form of ruffle. Card-playing sense is a separate word, from a former game of that name (1589), from M.Fr. roffle, earlier romfle (1414),
from It. ronfa, perhaps a corruption of trionfo "triumph" (from Fr., cf. trump). The game was in vogue c.1590-1630.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


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)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Louie must win the first heart, cash his high clubs and diamonds, ruff a diamond and ruff a club.
The winning line was to ruff with the spade ace, play a trump to dummy's king and discard the heart king on the diamond ten.
The first one to be studied is the ruff, a shorebird that gathers in large groups during mating season.
The defense began with two top hearts and a heart ruff.
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