1 of 2

noun (1)

plural scruffs
: the back of the neck : nape


2 of 2

noun (2)

: a thin growth of beard : stubble
He's lean, and not too tall, with spiky hair, scruff on his chin, and a deep voice.Margot Cleary
The uniform isn't so much suit and tie as it is plaid shirt, work boots, and two-day scruff.Laura Regensdorf

Examples of scruff in a Sentence

Noun (1) She held the kitten by the scruff of its neck.
Recent Examples on the Web
Harmon sported some scruff while at the 1981 Eddie Awards. Andrea Wurzburger, Peoplemag, 1 Sep. 2023 The suspect is described as a man in his 40s or 50s with gray scruff, police said. Kate Armanini,, 9 May 2023 Comfortable with animals from growing up surrounded by wilderness, the Alaskan woman confidently picked up the opossum by its neck scruff and gently escorted it outside. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 5 Apr. 2023 A little of this medium-weight balm goes a long way to style and shape longer beards, while still deeply moisturizing your scruff with shea butter. Cristina Montemayor, Men's Health, 11 Jan. 2023 Affleck opted for a standard blue button-up with a pair of dark wash jeans and sneakers—along with the signature scruff he’s had since his early days with Jenny. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 22 July 2022 His garments, his movies, his homes, the scruff coming out of his face—it’s all perfectly placed with a studied, elegant ease that comes from precision. Kareem Rashed, Robb Report, 27 Mar. 2022 He’s played by Slattery’s Mad Men compatriot Jon Hamm with a bit of a scruff, a bit of a paunch, and a touch of melancholy. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 June 2023 Something about a man in a beanie (with a little bit of scruff 😍) just looks so good. Yoora Kim, Seventeen, 28 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'scruff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

variant of earlier scuff, cuff, of obscure origin

Noun (2)

back-formation from scruffy

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1790, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1974, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of scruff was in 1790

Dictionary Entries Near scruff

Cite this Entry

“Scruff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: the skin of the back of the neck : nape
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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