noun (1)
\ ˈskrəf How to pronounce scruff (audio) \
plural scruffs

Definition of scruff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the back of the neck : nape


noun (2)

Definition of scruff (Entry 2 of 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: Noun The resulting portraits capture their scruff, their bow ties and their wild eyes. Jenna Ross, Star Tribune, "A force behind Minnesota's Legacy Fund, arts advocate Sheila Smith retires after a quarter-century," 29 Dec. 2020 Bert’s approach was to grab readers by the scruff of the neck and rush them through a volley of bullet points to the bottom of the page. Bruce Mccall, The New Yorker, "My Life in Cars," 12 Dec. 2020 Amis’s saw-toothed sentences seized me by the scruff and carried me off for good. Parul Sehgal, New York Times, "Martin Amis Offers the ‘Inside Story’ of His Relationships With Three Famous Writers," 20 Oct. 2020 Comedian Jerry Seinfeld grabbed this debate by the scruff of the neck in an op-ed throwdown in The New York Times. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Reports on the death of cities maybe premature," 30 Aug. 2020 Further review of Local 24's footage, and social media footage from different angles, show the dog was picked up by the scruff of the neck, and handled in a way that some could see as cruel, but it was not strangled. Micaela A Watts, USA TODAY, "Fact check: A puppy was not strangled on live TV during a Memphis protest," 22 Aug. 2020 On two occasions misfortune has conspired to subvert the Brazilian prodigy's chances of grabbing the competition by the scruff of the neck in the red and blue colors of Paris Saint-Germain. Aleks Klosok, CNN, "Why it's now or never in Neymar's quest for European glory," 11 Aug. 2020 His powerful right hand seizes me by the scruff of my neck and directs my head to a spot in the sky. J. B. Mackinnon, The Atlantic, "The Rich Meals That Keep Wild Animals on the Menu," 19 Mar. 2020 The two young hyenas, named Freedom and Unity in honor of the protests, were darted and dragged by their scruffs, one by one, from the enclosure. Helen Sullivan, New York Times, "In Lebanon, the Hyena’s Main Fear Is Fear Itself," 30 Oct. 2019

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

Noun (1)

1790, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1974, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for scruff

Noun (1)

variant of earlier scuff, cuff, of obscure origin

Noun (2)

back-formation from scruffy

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Statistics for scruff

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Scruff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for scruff


\ ˈskrəf How to pronounce scruff (audio) \

Kids Definition of scruff

: the loose skin on the back of the neck

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