\ ˈrəf How to pronounce rough (audio) \
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
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

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Other Words from rough


roughish \ ˈrə-​fish How to pronounce rough (audio) \ adjective
roughness \ ˈrəf-​nəs How to pronounce rough (audio) \ noun


rougher noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for rough

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

Adjective 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. Adverb 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 Noun He hit his drive into the rough. He showed me a few roughs of the new building. Verb He was called for roughing the kicker.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Apartment developers have reason to continue to pursue new projects when factoring in rent totals over the last decade, despite a rough pandemic year. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Despite slowed rent growth, developers keep building new San Diego apartments," 26 Feb. 2021 Elk climbs on her back and doesn’t fall off because Sturgeon’s skin is rough. oregonlive, "Native art highlighted in Talking Walls at Beaverton’s Greenway Park," 22 Feb. 2021 This winter has been rough for many regions throughout the country, and particularly brutal in Texas, where people are currently without power and running water. Jennifer Aldrich, Better Homes & Gardens, "Thousands of Snow Throwers Recalled Due to Amputation Hazard," 19 Feb. 2021 Planes couldn’t fly that morning because of weather, and the water was rough. Cathy Free, Anchorage Daily News, "How is Alaska leading the nation in vaccinating residents? With boats, ferries, planes and snowmobiles.," 6 Feb. 2021 After such a rough year, Placé just wants a taste of what life used to be, with friends and most importantly with family. René A. Guzman,, "New Year’s wishes for 2021 from San Antonio’s first lady, the city’s poet laureate and other notables," 30 Dec. 2020 This is going to be a rough year for everybody, with guys in and out, travel is different, all of those things. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers passing every test, proving doubters wrong with 3-0 start," 28 Dec. 2020 Ivey had a rough start to his college career, which was why the four-star guard from South Bend, Ind. was emotional after hitting the game-winning three-pointer in a Jan. 19 upset vs. Ohio State. Marcus Fuller, Star Tribune, "Gophers vs. Purdue pits Richard Pitino's vets against Matt Painter's fab four," 29 Jan. 2021 It's been a rough start to the winter season for Tahoe businesses. Gregory Thomas,, "Tahoe is about to get buried in snow, prompting ski resorts to prepare for more visitors," 26 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb In 2015 Lebedev and Johnson slept rough on the streets together to raise awareness for one of his papers’ charity appeals, which have raised millions for causes including elephants and homeless veterans. Simon Usborne, Town & Country, "The Dizzying Social Rise of Russian Scion Evgeny Lebedev," 21 Feb. 2021 West’s music was sludgy and rough-edged, with growly vocals and squealing guitar solos. al, "Leslie West, ‘Mississippi Queen’ rock guitarist, dead at 75," 24 Dec. 2020 West’s music was sludgy and rough-edged, with growly vocals and squealing guitar solos. al, "Leslie West, ‘Mississippi Queen’ rock guitarist, dead at 75," 24 Dec. 2020 West’s music was sludgy and rough-edged, with growly vocals and squealing guitar solos. al, "Leslie West, ‘Mississippi Queen’ rock guitarist, dead at 75," 24 Dec. 2020 West’s music was sludgy and rough-edged, with growly vocals and squealing guitar solos. al, "Leslie West, ‘Mississippi Queen’ rock guitarist, dead at 75," 24 Dec. 2020 West’s music was sludgy and rough-edged, with growly vocals and squealing guitar solos. al, "Leslie West, ‘Mississippi Queen’ rock guitarist, dead at 75," 24 Dec. 2020 West’s music was sludgy and rough-edged, with growly vocals and squealing guitar solos. Los Angeles Times, "Leslie West, rock guitarist best known for enduring ‘Mississippi Queen’ riff, dies at 75," 23 Dec. 2020 In a breathtaking performance Sunday at Winged Foot, on a course so demanding no one else broke par, DeChambeau blasted away with his driver and had short irons from the ankle-deep rough on his way to a 3-under 67. Doug Ferguson, Houston Chronicle, "Bryson DeChambeau blasts way to U.S. Open title," 20 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On Friday, DeChambeau smashed a shot that landed about 20 yards short of its green and just left of the fairway in some high rough. Bill Pennington, New York Times, "Bryson DeChambeau’s Ball Search Pushes Him Out of Masters Hunt," 13 Nov. 2020 That’s where a lot of those guys that shine as diamonds in the rough really come through. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Opinion: NFL training camp limitations leave many rookies, coaching staffs in tough spot," 15 Aug. 2020 On the drivable par-4 No. 16, for example, his tee shot with a 3-wood went into the right rough. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Tony Finau’s 66 gives him a tie for fourth place in the PGA Championship," 10 Aug. 2020 Friday, Rory McIlroy drove into the right rough and, with no galleries and very few spotters and marshals, the ball disappeared, lost. Scott Ostler,, "Cool, gray city of golf: Harding Park, SF put on a show for PGA Championship," 8 Aug. 2020 Or, use a knotty rough-sawn cedar and dispense with careful adjustments to produce a rustic planter well suited to life outdoors. Thomas Klenck, Popular Mechanics, "How To Build You Own Cedar Planter Box," 20 June 2020 Whereas the Rubicon excels at methodically navigating rocks and trails, the Mojave has been fortified to charge through the wide-open rough at greater speeds. Mike Sutton, Car and Driver, "2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave Leads Jeep to a New Sandbox," 17 Apr. 2020 The crowd in the evening was very different in character to the ordinary one owing to the presence of roughs, who as usual congregated rapidly in view of there being further disturbances. New York Times, "1895: London Stockbrokers Appear in Court," 21 Mar. 2020 Playing the sixth hole, Thomas’ tee shot landed in the right rough, where some tree branches blocked his path to the green. John Davis, azcentral, "Justin Thomas has another close encounter with a tree at the Phoenix Open," 31 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Malik Jefferson isn’t good enough to rough the kicker. Nick Canepa Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Nick Canepa’s Chargers report card: vs. Raiders," 8 Nov. 2020 To rough out a personality profile, or profiles, the research team measured which facets of personality were most strongly correlated to higher levels of susceptibility to conspiracy beliefs. Benedict Carey, New York Times, "A Theory About Conspiracy Theories," 28 Sep. 2020 In this time of COVID, though, players and families must rough it in different ways. Dallas News, "As PGA Tour makes its return at Colonial, players are taking precautions to remain virus-free," 9 June 2020 Higuera came through with seven shutout innings while Stanley was roughed up for nine hits and three runs in 4⅔ frames. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A recap of all 50 season openers for the Brewers," 25 Mar. 2020 The Nationals roughed up Jack Flaherty for four runs, all in the third inning; the Cardinals' 23-year-old starter hadn't allowed that many in a game since July 2, a span of 18 appearances. Howard Fendrich,, "Nationals are 1 win from the World Series after topping the Cardinals 8-1 behind Stephen Strasburg’s 12 strikeouts," 14 Oct. 2019 Gandhi was shocked when he was thrown out of train cars, roughed up for using public walkways, and segregated from European passengers on a stagecoach. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "How Mahatma Gandhi changed political protest," 27 Sep. 2019 Chara earned a double-minor for roughing, Myers a single shot. Matt Porter,, "Canucks take advantage of road-weary Bruins and other observations," 23 Feb. 2020 Clamp on the lid and, with mitts or folded kitchen towels on your hands for protection, give the whole thing a shake up, down and all around to rough up the potato outsides. Los Angeles Times, "How to Boil Water: Perfect English roast potatoes," 8 Apr. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for rough

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for rough

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rough.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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
somewhat informal : difficult or unpleasant to deal with



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

: in a rough way
British : outside and without shelter



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

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
informal + old-fashioned : 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 How to pronounce rough (audio) \
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 How to pronounce rough (audio) \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on rough

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rough

Nglish: Translation of rough for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rough for Arabic Speakers

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