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rough-and-tum·​ble ˌrə-fən-ˈtəm-bəl How to pronounce rough-and-tumble (audio)
: rough disorderly unrestrained fighting or struggling
also : infighting


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: marked by rough-and-tumble
grew up in a rough-and-tumble atmosphereE. J. Kahn
: put together haphazardly : makeshift
a rough-and-tumble fence

Examples of rough-and-tumble in a Sentence

Noun a rough-and-tumble broke out among the fans in the stands Adjective the announcement of his candidacy was made from a rough-and-tumble stage put together just that morning
Recent Examples on the Web
Admittedly, the lengthy travel journey and spate of rugged adventures make the trip better suited for older kids, but parents shouldn’t rule it out for rough-and-tumble tots either. Lindsay Cohn, Parents, 13 May 2024 Oftentimes slides are pretty flimsy and don’t provide enough support, but Chaco is celebrated as a brand that makes slides designed for rough-and-tumble activities. Olivia Avitt, Peoplemag, 12 Apr. 2024 All of them hark back to a rowdy, rough-and-tumble time when movies were content to be vessels of visceral wish fulfillment and mindless, instantly disposable escapism. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2024 Much of life’s most important action takes the form of talk, but Hollywood sees things differently and, as usual, will be filling the screen with rough-and-tumble adventure in a range of genres. The New Yorker, 1 Mar. 2024 Dutcher, Pitino, Medved, Alford and Miles all played or coached in the Big Ten, historically a rough-and-tumble, walk-it-up, grind-it-out, pound-it-inside league. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Feb. 2024 But why would these rough-and-tumble teenagers suddenly break into song? Melena Ryzik Adali Schell, New York Times, 22 Feb. 2024 The movie introduced fans to a rough-and-tumble baseball team that was welcoming a new member to their crew, building a rivalry with a ferocious dog, and looking for love poolside., 21 Feb. 2024 The world’s a rough-and-tumble place, and it’s always been thus. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 10 Feb. 2024
The trappings of the Senate were another world from Mr. Abourezk’s rough-and-tumble childhood on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, where his Lebanese parents had immigrated and ran a general store. Stephen Groves,, 25 Feb. 2023 The startup’s rough-and-tumble experiments are even more telling. Justine Calma, The Verge, 24 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rough-and-tumble.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1810, in the meaning defined above


1818, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of rough-and-tumble was in 1810

Dictionary Entries Near rough-and-tumble

Cite this Entry

“Rough-and-tumble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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