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ruffian

[ruhf-ee-uh n, ruhf-yuh n] /ˈrʌf i ən, ˈrʌf yən/
noun
1.
a tough, lawless person; roughneck; bully.
adjective
2.
Also, ruffianly. tough; lawless; brutal.
Origin
1525-1535
1525-35; < Middle French < Italian ruffiano, perhaps < Langobardic *hruf scurf + Italian -ano -an
Synonyms
1. brute, tough, knave, rogue, blackguard.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for ruffianly

ruffian

/ˈrʌfɪən/
noun
1.
a violent or lawless person; hoodlum or villain
Derived Forms
ruffianism, noun
ruffianly, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Old French rufien, from Italian ruffiano, perhaps related to Langobardic hruf scurf, scabbiness
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for ruffianly

ruffian

n.

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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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