We know the governor, despite his popularity and his toe-dips into bipartisanship, has a reputation as a ruffian.
The ruffian actually looked astonished, and for a moment did not reply, so bewildered did he seem.
The ruffian becomes one of the established orders of the body politic.
She made me feel as if I were a cad and a beast and a ruffian—as if I wanted k-kick-kicking.
I certainly was bound by no law to allow a ruffian to cut me down, unresisting.
Near the dire cell the dreadless wanderer oft Passes, as oft the ruffian shows his front.
It is you're the ruffian to him, snubbing him when he speaks good-naturedly to you.
I hope I shall never be deterred from detecting what I think a cheat, by the menaces of a ruffian.
You know that ruffian Ussher 'll be there; and I don't want to be meeting him.
My intent was, first to cut down the ruffian, and then set free the limbs of the captive with the blood-stained blade.
1530s, "a boisterous, brutal fellow, one ready to commit any crime," from Middle French rufian "a pimp" (15c.), from Italian ruffiano "a pander, pimp," of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Germanic source related to rough (adj.), but Dutch roffiaan, German Ruffian are said to be from French. English meaning might have been influenced by similarity of sound to rough. Related: Ruffianly.
The Romanic words (e.g. Medieval Latin ruffianus, Provençal rufian, Catalan rufia, Spanish rufian) preserve the sense of "protector or owner of whores." For sense evolution in English, cf. bully (n.).