\ 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


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

The family takes a vacation to a relative's farm, where the neurotic city dog Max learns some lessons about tough love and bravery from a gruff cattle dog, Rooster (Harrison Ford). Katie Walsh,, "‘Secret Life of Pets 2' review: Babies and toddlers added to lovable animal mix," 5 June 2019 Smith gives off old-school coaching vibes – somewhat gruff and slow to warm. Katherine Fitzgerald, azcentral, "Multi-sport athlete Rylee Bruce not just earning her place but 'kicking down the door'," 12 Apr. 2018 And when Momoa made his debut in Justice League, his character’s gruff new gimmick offered a nice contrast with the goofiness of Aquaman’s fish-whispering superpower, especially when the jokes came at the expense of tough Curry himself. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Aquaman goes for broke and lands somewhere between overstuffed marine opera and cheesy comic book fun," 11 Dec. 2018 Friends and colleagues said that hidden inside a somewhat gruff and intimidating exterior was a kid who occasionally came out during the Voyager press briefings. Dennis Overbye,, "Bradford Smith, 86, dies; showed postcards from outer space," 13 July 2018 Its starting protagonist, Agent Hummingbird, is a stylistic mix of Solid Snake’s gruff masculinity and Raiden’s skinny-and-sultry gait. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Never Stop Sneakin’ is a brilliant send-up of ’90s stealth games," 12 July 2018 There's also a lot of heart in the episode, with Boyle portraying a sensitive, gruff loner dealing with the worst of curses. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "We Want You to Believe: 15 Episodes to Get Started With 'The X-Files'," 12 June 2015 For Vincent Lindon, cast and bearded as the great man in this inert biopic from Jacques Doillon, that task entails gazing intently at statues, busts and naked models, looking gruff and serious, while the camera avoids close-ups of the detailing. Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times, "Review: ‘Rodin,’ a Biopic Heavy as Stone," 31 May 2018 Friends and colleagues said that hidden inside a somewhat gruff and intimidating exterior was a kid who occasionally came out during the Voyager press briefings. Dennis Overbye,, "Bradford Smith, 86, dies; showed postcards from outer space," 13 July 2018

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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Statistics for gruff

Last Updated

8 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gruff

The first known use of gruff was in 1691

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More Definitions for gruff



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gruff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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