\ 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 Parise was pointless in nine consecutive games before getting bumped from the lineup, the latest rough patch in a tumultuous season for the veteran winger. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Wild's Kirill Kaprizov showing knack for scoring big goals," 8 May 2021 The lead character of Jackie Fraser's delightful The Bookshop of Second Chances has, to put it mildly, hit a rough patch. Ashley Leath, Country Living, "Our May Front Porch Book Club Pick is 'The Bookshop of Second Chances'," 3 May 2021 Times weren’t so good for these companies in the last economic rough patch. New York Times, "‘A Perfect Positive Storm’: Bonkers Dollars for Big Tech," 29 Apr. 2021 But the company has hit a rough patch in the market recently. Rebecca Elliott, WSJ, "Tesla Posts Record Earnings at Start of Turbulent Year," 26 Apr. 2021 The Bison rallied for a 15-14 win and used that experience to help shake off a second-quarter rough patch six days later at Wheeling to pull away for a 49-22 win. Steve Reaven,, "Football notes: Defensive lineman AJ Romero makes immediate impact in first games in Nazareth uniform," 5 Apr. 2021 Months before the outbreak, Negan and Lucille's relationship has hit a major rough patch. Nick Romano,, "The Walking Dead season 10 finale recap: Negan gets an origin story," 5 Apr. 2021 In what looks to be a matchup of contenders who have both hit a rough patch this season, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers will face off against Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers tonight. oregonlive, "Los Angeles Lakers vs LA Clippers free live stream info, score updates, time, TV channel, how to watch online (4/4/21)," 4 Apr. 2021 Johnson’s introduction to street course racing was rough. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Here's our report card on all 24 drivers after IndyCar's race at St. Pete," 26 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Six-inch rough-cut logs are $3.20 per lineal foot in Fairbanks. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "Springtime means cleaning the garage — and building a shed for all the stuff you clean out," 1 May 2021 Dyson advises you rough dry until your hair is damp to touch before swapping out the attachment for a brush or curling barrel — these other attachments will finish drying your damp strands. Nicole Saunders, NBC News, "Best Dyson hair tools and hot tools of 2021," 13 Apr. 2021 They were headed to the Tacoma Narrows Airport near Gig Harbor, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation, when O’Brien radioed air traffic control in Portland to report the rough-running engine. Jessica Prokop, oregonlive, "Pilot used treetops to survive SW Washington crash: ‘I looked for a space that was heavily forested’," 30 Mar. 2021 That covered up a rough-looking sequence for Boston: newcomer Jarred Tinordi and Connor Clifton converging on Oshie … the Bruins in a bad line change, no one covered Richard Panik, who played give-and-go with Oshie … the latter tapped it home. Matt Porter,, "In Zdeno Chara’s return to Boston, Bruins lose to Capitals in shootout," 3 Mar. 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 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 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 The V60 Cross Country doesn’t ask its occupants to rough it. Jason Fogelson, Forbes, "2021 Volvo V60 Cross Country Fills Wagon Needs," 21 Apr. 2021 When the Nuggets and Thunder tried to rough up Curry this week, Toscano-Anderson was the first to stick his nose into the scrum. Rusty Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle, "When Warriors needed him most, Toscano-Anderson was at his best," 15 Apr. 2021 Toss the potatoes around in the pot to rough up their outside layer. Meredith Deeds Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Do-ahead steps make a lavish homemade brunch easy," 24 Mar. 2021 At the plate: C Daulton Varsho (triple) and 1B Wyatt Mathisen (double) helped rough up Giants RHP Jimmie Sherfy, a former Diamondbacks reliever who gave up two runs in the fifth inning. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Diamondbacks’ Josh Rojas embracing change after busy offseason," 9 Mar. 2021 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

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

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rough.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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

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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