\ 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 roughLondon 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

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 upwas 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 roughish (audio) \ adjective
roughness \ ˈrəf-​nəs How to pronounce roughness (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 As of 05/15, 4 states have >10 tracers per daily new case and a positive test rate rough targets experts say must be met to contain the virus. NBC News, "Northam to open Virginia Beach in time for holiday weekend," 20 May 2020 Tropical Storm Arthur crawled closer to the North Carolina coast Sunday evening, amid threats of some minor flooding and rough seas as the system moves off the Southeast seaboard. CBS News, "Tropical Storm Arthur nudging closer to North Carolina coast," 18 May 2020 As a rough analogy, imagine a homeowner having stated in a mortgage application that his 2017 income was $100,000 only to claim during a later refinancing that his 2017 income was $130,000 — without acknowledging or explaining the change. Heather Vogell, ProPublica, "Whistleblower: Wall Street Has Engaged in Widespread Manipulation of Mortgage Funds," 15 May 2020 Even though the robot dog isn’t quite as cuddly as its real canine counterpart, the robot has been aptly named Spot and is able to roam into areas where wheels are largely ineffective, presumably rough paths or grass, according to Lonely Planet. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "This Robot Dog Is Encouraging People to Social Distance in Singapore," 14 May 2020 This goes along with another rough definition of temperature: Temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of the particles in an object (where kinetic energy depends on both the mass and the velocity). Rhett Allain, Wired, "The Science of Temperature Is Weirder Than You Think," 14 May 2020 The unmarked dirt road that traverses the flat expanse of Buckhead Mesa 10 miles north of Payson in Tonto National Forest is open to hikers, equestrians and motorized vehicles equipped to handle rough conditions. Mare Czinar, azcentral, "Great views start right away on this easy Payson hike. Here's how to do it.," 14 May 2020 After a rough pre-trial hearing, Liz asks a very bored Diane for advice, and Diane tells her Will grew to like and respect Judge Kuhn, which is an effective way of conveying the history behind this story. Chancellor Agard,, "The Good Fight recap: The gang tries to resist sexual tension and draws dots," 14 May 2020 Farm health, at least in the US, was already in a rough spot. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "Covid-19 has introduced chaos to food commodity prices," 24 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Most are sleeping rough, either full-time or intermittently. The Economist, "No crib for a bed On any one winter night, around 5,000 people in Britain sleep rough," 18 Dec. 2019 Shelves above each bed are made from rough-cut and original two-by-fours repurposed when these apartments were remodeled last winter and spring. Dina Mishev, Washington Post, "Missoula," 11 Sep. 2019 Thousands of migrants are sleeping rough on the streets and the parks after trying to cross the border into Croatia but are being pushed back into Bosnia, aid groups say. Washington Post, "Aid groups: Migrant humanitarian crisis looming in Bosnia," 13 June 2019 By answering the conjecture, the coauthors of the new work have placed a rough-cut restriction on the spaces in which higher-rank lattices can act. Quanta Magazine, "A Proof About Where Symmetries Can’t Exist," 23 Oct. 2018 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 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 Schauffele, who birdied the 18th in regulation to force a playoff, had to lay up from the rough near a bunker, and his 12-foot birdie putt stayed just right of the hole., "Rory McIlroy thought he did everything he needed to win the HSBC Champions on Sunday, and then Xander Schauffele made him do a little more.," 4 Nov. 2019 Kids can dump their mining rough into a mining sluice outside the cave entrance and discover their treasures. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Hunt for rocks and fossils at these 2 Wisconsin destinations," 18 Oct. 2019 Woods flew his tee shot past the green and into a pit of rough, reaching the green in three before a two-putt for double bogey. The Si Staff,, "2019 U.S. Open Live Blog: Tracking Tiger, Koepka and Round One Leaders at Pebble," 13 June 2019 Drama on 17 as his drive caught the right rough, but McIlroy carved it out onto the green. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Emotional Rory McIlroy feels 'love' in dramatic late Open bid," 19 July 2019 Just ahead of him, Koepka only parred the hole after driving the rough, and so Woodland walked to the 15th tee with a two-shot lead cushion. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Woodland’s U.S. Open victory is all about the shot making," 16 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Hardhats are just as likely to rough up antiwar girls as antiwar men in the street, and police understand that women are just as likely to be pushers or bombers. Gloria Steinem, Time, "50 Years Ago, Gloria Steinem Wrote an Essay For TIME About Her Hopes For Women’s Futures. Here’s What She'd Add Today," 5 Mar. 2020 Then stop complaining about ticky-tack roughing the passer calls. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc's Morning Line: Are the Cincinnati Reds the NL Central favorites now? In the photo?," 27 Jan. 2020 Except roughing the passer was called and the Saints kicked a field goal to tie the game and then won it. Ann Killion,, "49ers vs. Saints: New Orleans fans poised to make the difference," 7 Dec. 2019 The worst was Danny Shelton getting flagged for roughing the passer on a clean, well-timed, but spleen-rattling hit on Darnold., "Thirty-three thoughts on the Patriots’ 33-0 win over the Jets . . .," 23 Oct. 2019 Garrett also had two roughing the passer calls and knocked Trevor Siemian out of the game with an ankle injury that requires season-ending surgery. Mary Kay Cabot,, "Browns Jamie Gillan named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week; Myles Garrett passed over for the defensive award," 18 Sep. 2019 But no way was that one roughing the passer against the Broncos. Andy Nesbitt, For The Win, "NFL fans couldn't believe the refs made such a bad call in final minute of Bears-Broncos," 15 Sep. 2019

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

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rough.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for rough


How to pronounce rough (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rough

Spanish Central: Translation of rough

Nglish: Translation of rough for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rough for Arabic Speakers

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