\ˈrəf \
rougher; roughest

Definition of rough 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1a : marked by inequalities, ridges, or projections on the surface : coarse

b : covered with or made up of coarse and often shaggy hair rough-coated collie — compare smooth, wirehaired

c(1) : having a broken, uneven, or bumpy surface rough terrain

(2) : difficult to travel through or penetrate : wild into the rough woods— P. B. Shelley

2a : turbulent, tempestuous rough seas

b(1) : characterized by harshness, violence, or force

(2) : presenting a challenge : difficult rough to deal with— R. M. McAlmon

3 : coarse or rugged in character or appearance: such as

a : harsh to the ear

b : crude in style or expression

c : indelicate

d : marked by a lack of refinement or grace : uncouth

4a : crude, unfinished rough carpentry

b : executed or ventured hastily, tentatively, or imperfectly a rough draft rough estimate also : approximate a rough idea



Definition of rough (Entry 2 of 4)

2 British : without usual conveniences especially : without proper shelter become homeless and have to sleep rough London Times



Definition of rough (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : uneven ground covered with high grass, brush, and stones specifically : such ground bordering a golf fairway

2 : the rugged or disagreeable side or aspect hiking-camping admirers of nature in the rough— Eleanor Stirling

3a : something in a crude, unfinished, or preliminary state

b : broad outline : general terms the question … has been discussed in roughManchester Guardian Weekly

c : a hasty preliminary drawing or layout

4 : rowdy


roughed; roughing; roughs

Definition of rough (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : roughen

2a : to subject to abuse : manhandle, beat usually used with up

b : to subject to unnecessary and intentional violence in a sport a penalty for roughing the passer

c : shell sense 3 used with up was roughed up for six runs

3 : to calk or otherwise roughen (a horse's shoes) to prevent slipping

4a : to shape, make, or dress in a rough or preliminary way

b : to indicate the chief lines of rough out the structure of a building

rough it

: to live under harsh or primitive conditions

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from rough


roughish \ˈrə-​fish \ adjective
roughness \ˈrəf-​nəs \ noun


rougher noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for rough

Synonyms: Adjective

bristly, brushy, cottony, fleecy, furred, furry, hairy, hirsute, shaggy, silky, unshorn, woolly (also wooly)

Antonyms: Adjective

bald, furless, glabrous, hairless, shorn, smooth

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for rough


rough, harsh, uneven, rugged, scabrous mean not smooth or even. rough implies points, bristles, ridges, or projections on the surface. a rough wooden board harsh implies a surface or texture distinctly unpleasant to the touch. a harsh fabric that chafes the skin uneven implies a lack of uniformity in height, breadth, or quality. an old house with uneven floors rugged implies irregularity or roughness of land surface and connotes difficulty of travel. a rugged landscape scabrous implies scaliness or prickliness of surface. a scabrous leaf

synonyms see in addition rude

Examples of rough in a Sentence


He trimmed the rough edge of the paper. We traveled over rough dirt roads. They hiked through rough terrain. We were a bit shaken from the plane's rough landing. He went through a rough patch after his divorce. They've hit a few rough spots in their marriage. Despite a rough start, the team won more games this season than last.


The engine is running a little rough. Life has been treating her pretty rough. He plays rough with the dog. people living rough on the streets


He hit his drive into the rough. He showed me a few roughs of the new building.


He was called for roughing the kicker.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In the sitting room, the raw concrete wall offers an interesting backdrop for an adroit mix of the rough and refined. Ian Phillips, WSJ, "A Dull New Apartment Gets an Infusion of Personality," 8 Nov. 2018 Scientists only have the roughest of estimates on its age, with the end of the last ice age, around 2.6 million years ago, as their best guess. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Humans And Deer Are Killing Earth's Largest Organism Together," 18 Oct. 2018 But it’s really not the smartest idea, especially for your first year as an undergrad. 'The Innocents' Cast Test Their Supernatural Movie Knowledge Know that 8 a.m.'s might be rough. Erin Nicole Celletti, Teen Vogue, "9 Tips for Scheduling College Courses," 31 Aug. 2018 But the truth is, cosmic warriors, this summer has also been rough. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Your Sign's September 2018 Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 30 Aug. 2018 Ask Bob Condotta all your questions in this live chat on Tuesday at 1 p.m. The Seahawks’ season is off to a rough start after Monday night’s 24-17 defeat to the Chicago Bears. Seattle Times Sports Staff, The Seattle Times, "1 p.m. Live chat with Bob Condotta | How to fix the Seahawks’ broken offense? What really accounts for Chris Carson’s mysterious absence?," 18 Sep. 2018 New York City’s Panorama music festival got off to a bit of a rough start—the second half of performances on the first day were cancelled due to thunderstorms, and eager festivalgoers had to evacuate Randall’s Island in the pouring rain. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "SZA’s Panorama Festival Look Proves that Florals Don’t Have to Be Demure," 30 July 2018 Each step is a potential speed bump, poised to give your day a rough start. Lauren Piro, Good Housekeeping, "6 Tricks to Get Your Kids Out the Door Faster," 23 July 2018 McSally still has the lead, but with six weeks until the election there’s going to be a lot of rough road ahead. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Power Rankings: Not so peachy primaries," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

When Trump suggested that police rough up suspects, the crowd—and the uniformed officers sitting behind him on stage—applauded. David A. Graham, The Atlantic, "Trump's Vision of Lawless Order," 28 July 2017 Last night, Morris updated her Instagram story with a close-up shot of the engagement ring—a large, unique rough-cut diamond. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Maren Morris & Ryan Hurd Are Engaged—and Her Ring Is the Most Unique We've Ever Seen," 10 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But Facebook has had a particularly rough last 18 months. Amanda Sakuma, Vox, "Facebook reportedly used anti-Semitic attacks to discredit its critics," 15 Nov. 2018 Webb Simpson knocked his tee shot into the right rough on Thursday and needed three tries to get out of it; the first two combined for 15 yards before Simpson finally found the fairway and eventually accepted double bogey. Stephanie Apstein,, "Lengthened and Unforgiving, 14th Hole Is the Most Dreaded at Shinnecock Hills in U.S. Open," 15 June 2018 Once a year, golfers should be pushed to their limits in brutal conditions — yes, even on bone-dry greens, in crazy wind and with super-high roughs. Charles Curtis, For The Win, "Are you not entertained? The U.S. Open was an all-time classic," 18 June 2018 Woods was busy putting his tee shot in the right rough then being too aggressive with his approach. Michael Rosenberg,, "Unable to Avoid 'Others,' Tiger Woods Turned a 72 Into a 78 on Thurday at the U.S. Open," 14 June 2018 An onion, or maybe half an onion, peeled and rough chopped. Paula Forbes, GQ, "How to Make Salsa, the Party Food for Lazy People," 9 June 2018 Woods got to 8-under par for his round with back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12, but a wayward drive into some very thick rough led to his first bogey of the day at the par-4 14th and stalled his run at a course record. Nick Schwartz, For The Win, "Tiger Woods made a furious charge up the leaderboard Saturday," 12 May 2018 Hole 10- Par 5: Par, E for day, E for tournament Tiger's drive went 330 yards but found the right rough and drew a less-than ideal line. Daniel Rapaport,, "Putting Woes Continue as Tiger Woods Shoots Two-Over 73 on Friday at Wells Fargo," 4 May 2018 Officials say the rough tides and murky water are interfering with their search, according to ABC 7. Beatrice Dupuy, Teen Vogue, "Devonte Hart, the Teen From a Viral Mike Brown Protest Photo, Is Still Missing," 3 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Unlike camping, with its long and noble tradition of nature lovers who rough it with the intention of getting away from civilization, glamping is about bringing civilization into the wild. Cheryl Strayed, Vogue, "Is Glamping Camping? Wild’s Cheryl Strayed Tackles the Question—in Style," 17 July 2018 Major news outlets, such as CBS and NBC, had reporters on the ground documenting the conflict, some of whom were assaulted, such as CBS correspondents Mike Wallace and Dan Rather, who were roughed up by security guards. Danielle Corcione, Teen Vogue, "How the Democratic National Convention Has Been Protested Against in the Last 50 Years," 28 Aug. 2018 Kleist was working with a five-run advantage after Oregon (49-7) had roughed up Drake (44-11) ace Nicole Newman for four runs, a season-high, in her 4 1/3 innings of work. Sean Meagher,, "Preakness Stakes 2018: Start time, post positions, odds, TV channel, how to watch live stream," 19 May 2018 But their reimagining of the tune makes it their own, roughing up all the smoothness of the original. Chuck Arnold, Billboard, "The Rolling Stones' 'Some Girls': 40 Years Ago, the Rockers Unleashed Their Last Perfect Album," 9 June 2018 The Horned Frogs roughed him up for three runs - two unearned because of a throwing error by shortstop David Hamilton - in a 34-pitch first inning. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "Clemens’ game-winning homer lifts Texas over TCU," 18 May 2018 On the strength of the Saladino and Aguilar homers, Milwaukee appeared to have the game in hand heading to the seventh when Atlanta quickly roughed up Jacob Barnes. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 5, Braves 4: A big third inning and a nice start for Freddy Peralta are enough," 6 July 2018 When his mother remarried, her new husband's son roughed up and choked the then adolescent Don. Julia Ioffe, GQ, "The Real Story of Donald Trump Jr.," 21 June 2018 The tipping point was when retirees, demonstrating on April 18 against a social-security reform decreed by Mr. Ortega, were roughed up by thugs while police watched. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Russia in Central America, Again," 8 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of rough


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1728, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rough


Middle English, from Old English rūh; akin to Old High German rūh rough, Lithuanian raukas wrinkle

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rough

Statistics for rough

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rough

The first known use of rough was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rough



English Language Learners Definition of rough

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: having a surface that is not even

: having or causing sudden, violent movements

: difficult or unpleasant to deal with



English Language Learners Definition of rough (Entry 2 of 4)

: in a rough way

: outside and without shelter



English Language Learners Definition of rough (Entry 3 of 4)

the rough golf : an area on a golf course covered with tall grass that makes it difficult to hit the ball

: something (such as a drawing) that is done quickly and is not detailed or finished

: a person who is loud and violent



English Language Learners Definition of rough (Entry 4 of 4)

American football + ice hockey : to hit (a player) very hard in a way that is not allowed by the rules


\ˈrəf \
rougher; roughest

Kids Definition of rough

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : uneven in surface rough tree bark a rough road

2 : having many bumps and jolts a rough ride

3 : not calm rough seas

4 : being harsh or violent rough treatment

5 : difficult or unpleasant to deal with “You're in for a rough night …”— J. K. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets

6 : coarse or rugged in nature or look a rough face

7 : having a harsh sound a rough voice

8 : not complete or exact a rough estimate a rough draft

Other Words from rough

roughly adverb
roughness noun



Kids Definition of rough (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : uneven ground covered with high grass, brush, and stones

2 : something in a crude or unfinished state It's not a finished drawing, just a rough.


roughed; roughing

Kids Definition of rough (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : to handle violently : beat He was roughed up by bullies.

2 : to make or shape coarsely or unevenly

rough it

: to live without ordinary comforts We spent the summer roughing it in northern Maine.


\ˈrəf \

Medical Definition of rough 

: having a broken, uneven, or bumpy surface specifically : forming or being rough colonies usually made up of organisms that form chains or filaments and tend to marked decrease in capsule formation and virulence used of dissociated strains of bacteria — compare smooth

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on rough

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rough

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rough

Spanish Central: Translation of rough

Nglish: Translation of rough for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rough for Arabic Speakers

Comments on rough

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


a nest or breeding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!