ruf·​fi·​an | \ ˈrə-fē-ən How to pronounce ruffian (audio) \

Definition of ruffian

: a brutal person : bully

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Other Words from ruffian

ruffian adjective
ruffianism \ ˈrə-​fē-​ə-​ˌni-​zəm How to pronounce ruffianism (audio) \ noun
ruffianly adjective

Examples of ruffian in a Sentence

a gang of ruffians preying upon people who ventured into that section of town

Recent Examples on the Web

Mitchell’s newest collaborative of local ruffians (including Noah Nelson, Greg Baxter and others), has the honor of kicking off the Bike Kitchen’s slate of 2018 shows along with Slattern V and Manky. Aaron Davis, sacbee, "Rev up with Loose Engines, a blast from the Beatles’ past, throwback jazz | The Sacramento Bee," 13 Apr. 2018 When Lily welcomes a drug dealer, the ruffian savors every luxurious detail. Amy Nicholson, Town & Country, "What This Spring's Thriller Thoroughbreds Reveals About the Horrors of Being Rich," 26 Feb. 2018 The early episodes are dominated by solid character actors in scruffy facial hair proficiently playing cops and local ruffians. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Alienist': TV Review," 15 Jan. 2018 It's become a moviegoing ritual of sorts, a touchstone of cinematic reliability in a world often seeming to be reeling into chaos, to see a vengeful Neeson dispensing rough justice to a baker's assortment of hoods, ruffians and, in one case, wolves. Cary Darling, Houston Chronicle, "It's January, which means Liam Neeson is kicking some butt," 11 Jan. 2018 In the opening scene, he is pulled off a Rome street and thrown into a van by Red Brigade ruffians, to be held until old man Getty, now a British subject, forks over $17 million for his return, a demand that is refused. Todd Mccarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, "'All the Money in the World': Film Review," 19 Dec. 2017 Whether marauding nomadic tribes or local ruffians provoked Zimri-Lim’s nightmare may finally become clear. Andrew Lawler, Science | AAAS, "Was trading by nomads crucial to the rise of cities?," 19 Dec. 2017 But even iconic ruffians such as the Wrangler need to worry about fuel economy these days, hence the focus on weight reduction, faster windshield angle, etc. Daniel Pund, Car and Driver, "2018 Jeep Wrangler," 13 Dec. 2017 When the man was found, he was confronted by one sweatshirt-wearing ruffian who apparently disagreed with either the white supremacist’s political positions or his swastika armband. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Antifascists Hunt Down, Knock Out Neo-Nazi for Harassing Black Man," 18 Sep. 2017

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

circa 1525, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ruffian

Middle French rufian

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Time Traveler for ruffian

The first known use of ruffian was circa 1525

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More Definitions for ruffian



English Language Learners Definition of ruffian

old-fashioned : a strong and violent person (especially a man) who threatens and hurts other people


ruf·​fi·​an | \ ˈrə-fē-ən How to pronounce ruffian (audio) \

Kids Definition of ruffian

: a violent and cruel person

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More from Merriam-Webster on ruffian

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ruffian

Spanish Central: Translation of ruffian

Nglish: Translation of ruffian for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ruffian for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ruffian

What made you want to look up ruffian? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that collects or salvages junk

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