as in stern
harsh and threatening in manner or appearance I didn't exchange one word with the gruff mountaineer who sat next to me in the diner

Synonyms & Similar Words

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

Synonym Chooser

How is the word gruff distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of gruff are bluff, blunt, brusque, crusty, and curt. While all these words mean "abrupt and unceremonious in speech and manner," gruff suggests a hoarse or husky speech which may imply bad temper but more often implies embarrassment or shyness.

puts on a gruff pose

When is bluff a more appropriate choice than gruff?

While the synonyms bluff and gruff are close in meaning, bluff connotes good-natured outspokenness and unconventionality.

a bluff manner

In what contexts can blunt take the place of gruff?

While in some cases nearly identical to gruff, blunt suggests directness of expression in disregard of others' feelings.

a blunt appraisal

When could brusque be used to replace gruff?

The meanings of brusque and gruff largely overlap; however, brusque applies to a sharpness or ungraciousness.

a brusque response

When would crusty be a good substitute for gruff?

Although the words crusty and gruff have much in common, crusty suggests a harsh or surly manner sometimes concealing an inner kindliness.

a crusty exterior

When might curt be a better fit than gruff?

The synonyms curt and gruff are sometimes interchangeable, but curt implies disconcerting shortness or rude conciseness.

a curt command

Thesaurus Entries Near gruff

Cite this Entry

“Gruff.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

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