\ 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 Short statements, in a deep, gruff voice, can be heard as controlling, dismissive, or rude, a sign of un-self-aware male privilege. TheWeek, "Secret life of an anonymous speechwriter to the stars," 17 May 2020 Despite a gruff first exchange rooted in a minor misunderstanding, Kathy and Del’s kinder, more neighborly instincts soon kick in. Los Angeles Times, "Review: The moving drama ‘Driveways’ features a superb Brian Dennehy in one of his last roles," 6 May 2020 The frenetic and gruff style has found homes in Chicago, London and Brooklyn, and recently crossed over with the success of Pop Smoke, who was becoming a mainstream force before he was murdered in February. Cady Lang, Time, "The 6 Biggest Takeaways From Drake's New Mixtape Dark Lane Demo Tapes," 1 May 2020 Graynor is fearsome to watch here, with a gruff delivery that’s assertive and confident. Anne Cohen,, "Mrs America Episode 5 Recap: Meet Brenda Feigen-Fasteau & Her Husband Marc," 29 Apr. 2020 No amount of tan leatherette can cover for the gruff noises emitted by the RAV4's engine, though. Rich Ceppos, Car and Driver, "Compact SUV Battle: Ford vs. Honda vs. Mazda vs. Subaru vs. Toyota vs. VW," 20 Apr. 2020 Vincent Gardenia makes a credibly gruff manager, and while the fictional team is named the New York Mammoths, sharp-eyed viewers will recognize the locations as Shea Stadium and the old Yankee Stadium at their grittiest. Bruce Fretts, New York Times, "With Baseball Benched, These Movies Make Good Relievers," 1 Apr. 2020 The members of the team were almost all former military — American, Slovak and Norwegian — gruff and full of bravado. Alex Kay Potter, New York Times, "I Went to Iraq to Take Photographs. I Stayed On as a Medic.," 3 Mar. 2020 Erickson had a gruff exterior but a big heart, his son said. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, "Family of Southeast Alaska man who died from COVID-19 in Washington state warns: ‘Just stay home’," 26 Mar. 2020

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

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gruff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 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

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