rough·​neck | \ ˈrəf-ˌnek How to pronounce roughneck (audio) \

Definition of roughneck

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a rough or uncouth person
b : rowdy, tough
2 : a worker of an oil-well-drilling crew other than the driller



Definition of roughneck (Entry 2 of 2)

: having the characteristics of or suitable for a roughneck

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Examples of roughneck in a Sentence


a town overrun by roughnecks a group of roughnecks like to hang out at the roadhouse and harass people


their roughneck antics were amusing only if you were as drunk as they were
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Like many cities at this time, Baltimore had its share of roughnecks, pick pockets, petty thieves, charlatans and card sharks. John Wilmerding, WSJ, "A Winning Group of Cheaters," 28 Sep. 2018 Ninth-century Britain is a battleground of invading roughneck Vikings and the devoutly Christian Anglo-Saxons trying to hold them off. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "The Last Kingdom," 21 Nov. 2018 Three years later, the hill and 2 square miles of the surrounding plains incorporated as the city of Signal Hill, a settlement of roughnecks and wildcatters, an oil boomtown during the time when California produced a quarter of the world’s oil. Scott Garner,, "Neighborhood Spotlight: Signal Hill keeps progress in view without blocking out its oil town past," 22 June 2018 There are fewer roughnecks, as my old landlord had warned, to trash the place. Longreads, "Life on the Oil Frontier," 23 Apr. 2018 Later, Dollens worked as a roughneck in the oil fields. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, "The Teachers’ Strike and the Democratic Revival in Oklahoma," 4 June 2017 Somebody’s oil worker boyfriend might trash the place; indeed, the last round of roughnecks already have. Longreads, "Life on the Oil Frontier," 23 Apr. 2018 Until recently, the energy industry was mostly associated with roughnecks, gushing greasy dirty oil, and centralized electricity distribution systems. Tsvetana Paraskova, USA TODAY, "Blockchain technology is contributing to big digital disruption in energy sector," 16 Oct. 2017 When the reverend's rebellious daughter sets her sights on Ren, her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage Ren's reputation, with many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid. Shirley Macfarland,, "Dancing musical will benefit Broadview Heights Human Services programs: Talk of the Towns," 13 Oct. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Overwatch’s latest short focused on McCree, the game’s popular, roughneck cowboy character. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Blizzard’s stunning cinematics stole the show at BlizzCon 2018," 2 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'roughneck.' 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 roughneck


1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1906, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for roughneck

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Time Traveler for roughneck

The first known use of roughneck was in 1834

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More Definitions for roughneck



English Language Learners Definition of roughneck

chiefly US, informal
: someone who behaves in a rough, rude, or aggressive way
: someone who works on an oil rig or at an oil well


rough·​neck | \ ˈrəf-ˌnek How to pronounce roughneck (audio) \

Kids Definition of roughneck

: a rough aggressive person

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More from Merriam-Webster on roughneck

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with roughneck

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for roughneck

Spanish Central: Translation of roughneck

Nglish: Translation of roughneck for Spanish Speakers

Comments on roughneck

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showing courage and determination

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