\ ˈgrəf How to pronounce gruff (audio) \

Definition of gruff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : rough, brusque, or stern in manner, speech, or aspect a gruff reply
2 : being deep and harsh : hoarse a gruff voice


gruffed; gruffing; gruffs

Definition of gruff (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to utter in a gruff voice or manner "Get out of bed now!" gruffed the sergeant.

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Other Words from gruff


gruffly adverb
gruffness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for gruff


bluff, blunt, brusque, curt, crusty, gruff mean abrupt and unceremonious in speech and manner. bluff connotes good-natured outspokenness and unconventionality. a bluff manner blunt suggests directness of expression in disregard of others' feelings. a blunt appraisal brusque applies to a sharpness or ungraciousness. a brusque response curt implies disconcerting shortness or rude conciseness. a curt command crusty suggests a harsh or surly manner sometimes concealing an inner kindliness. a crusty exterior gruff suggests a hoarse or husky speech which may imply bad temper but more often implies embarrassment or shyness. puts on a gruff pose

Examples of gruff in a Sentence

Adjective Don't be fooled by his gruff manner—he's really very kind. He spoke in a gruff voice.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Don Imus, 79 The gruff radio personality built a large, devoted following for his show, offering up angry humor and sharp views that knocked politicians on both the left and right. oregonlive, "The departed: The stars, innovators and scoundrels, from Oregon and beyond, who died in 2019," 30 Dec. 2019 Why my kendo experience will stick with me My sensei, a jovial middle-aged man who wore a puffer vest and Minion socks, became a gruff Kendo master once his white armor was laced up. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "From rowing to kendo: Why I learn new sports on trips and you should, too," 31 Dec. 2019 Workers drilling into a mountain on the outskirts of a remote town unknowingly awaken an ancient force and the only person who knows how to stop the rampaging minions is Pietari, a quiet young boy who lives with his gruff hard-working father. Joyce Bautista Ferrari, Marie Claire, "The 12 Best Holiday-Themed Horror Movies," 28 Nov. 2019 But even now, with three World Series rings and the fourth-best career ERA (3.13) among active pitchers — behind only Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom and Chris Sale — Bumgarner hides a layer of humility beneath his gruff exterior. Ron Kroichick,, "Legacy of a Giant: How Madison Bumgarner made his mark over 10 years in SF," 27 Sep. 2019 Peter Fonda plays a lonely beekeeper with a persistent limp, a gruff demeanor and a lifetime’s worth of regrets. Justin Chang,, "Appreciation: The Peter Fonda role we should be talking about isn’t ‘Easy Rider,’ but ‘Ulee’s Gold’," 18 Aug. 2019 Peter Fonda plays a lonely beekeeper with a persistent limp, a gruff demeanor and a lifetime’s worth of regrets. Justin Chang,, "Appreciation: The Peter Fonda role we should be talking about isn’t ‘Easy Rider,’ but ‘Ulee’s Gold’," 18 Aug. 2019 Gears 5 begins by focusing on JD, the son of badass gruff manly man Marcus Fenix, who was the protagonist of the first generation of games. Wired, "Gears 5: A War Game That Really Deals with War Trauma," 5 Sep. 2019 Neville Chamberlain was ‘nice’ and people were aghast at Winston Churchill’s gruff demeanor. Bob Sellers, Fortune, "Here’s What It Would Take to Get to ‘Win-Win’ With China on Trade, Experts Say," 1 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gruff.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gruff


1691, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1706, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gruff

Adjective and Verb

Dutch grof; akin to Old High German grob coarse, hruf scurf — more at dandruff

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Time Traveler for gruff

Time Traveler

The first known use of gruff was in 1691

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Statistics for gruff

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gruff.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for gruff


How to pronounce gruff (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gruff

: rough or very serious in manner or speech
of a voice : low and rough


\ ˈgrəf How to pronounce gruff (audio) \
gruffer; gruffest

Kids Definition of gruff

: rough in speech or manner a gruff reply

Other Words from gruff

gruffly adverb
gruffness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on gruff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gruff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gruff

Spanish Central: Translation of gruff

Nglish: Translation of gruff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gruff for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gruff

What made you want to look up gruff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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