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

Noun a town overrun by roughnecks a group of roughnecks like to hang out at the roadhouse and harass people Adjective their roughneck antics were amusing only if you were as drunk as they were
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Cox would work his way up from a roustabout and roughneck to eventually leading an oil and gas company as well as other notable businesses. Dallas News, "Dallas businessman Edwin L. Cox remembered for his dedication to SMU," 7 Nov. 2020 For dirty work, this warlike roughneck has no peer. Tony Swan, Popular Mechanics, ""Earth Mover": PM Test Drives the 1992 Civilian Hummer," 20 Oct. 2020 During the down period, Foster worked as a roughneck and learned to be a welder and fix his own tractor. Tyler Bridges,, "Remembering Mike Foster: a 2-term Louisiana governor with a long list of accomplishments," 4 Oct. 2020 Another was a hat made of Bakelite, an early form of plastic that stood up to the rigors of roughneck labor. David Kindy, Smithsonian Magazine, "The History of the Hard Hat," 21 Feb. 2020 Stallone plays John Spartan, a roughneck cop brought out of his cryo-freeze prison to pursue an old ultra-violent nemesis (Wesley Snipes) who is loose in a non-violent future society. Ben Flanagan |, al, "Sylvester Stallone turns 74 today; Here are his 10 best movies," 6 July 2020 Car enthusiasts know there’s a lot more to the story of how a one-time oil roughneck and failed chicken farmer became one of the most successful race-car drivers in history, eventually creating some of the most iconic autos in American history., "Watch ‘Shelby American: The Carroll Shelby Story’ at virtual Freep Film Festival," 17 Apr. 2020 As prices tumbled, roughnecks, truck divers and engineers quickly lost their jobs. Fortune, "Trump’s oil deal: The inside story of how the Saudi-Russia price war ended," 14 Apr. 2020 One of the most painful busts in the history of crude oil happened just six years ago when a sharp price drop cost 200,000 roughnecks, almost half the entire workforce, their jobs. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Thousands of oil workers are getting laid off in the Permian Basin," 21 Mar. 2020 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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Time Traveler for roughneck Time Traveler

The first known use of roughneck was in 1834

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Cite this Entry

“Roughneck.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on roughneck

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for roughneck

Nglish: Translation of roughneck for Spanish Speakers

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