Definition of gruff in English:



  • 1(of a voice) rough and low in pitch:

    ‘she spoke with a gruff, masculine voice’
    • ‘He has a gruff voice, is thought to be a smoker and often smells of drink.’
    • ‘Soon after he had the crowd's attention with his tight rhymes, gruff voice, and theatrical delivery.’
    • ‘He had a deep, gruff voice, and he said some things that bothered her.’
    • ‘Make up your own silly opposites, such as a high, squeaky voice and a low, gruff voice.’
    • ‘His voice was gruff, but with a certain intellectual refinement to it.’
    • ‘After five rings, I was about to hang up, when I heard a gruff voice answer.’
    • ‘His voice was rather gruff but there was kindness in his blue eyes.’
    • ‘Based on his writing style, I imagined him a kind of playful, comedian's voice, when his real voice is quite gruff.’
    • ‘She was brought sharply back to earth by the gruff voice of the landlord yelling in her ear’
    • ‘Dave has a big, deep, booming gruff voice - that sounds like he gargles with gravel every single morning.’
    • ‘The alien yelled, using his gruff voice, to his friends, who were standing just out of Leanne's line of sight.’
    • ‘Within seconds my accent and gruff voice had won her over and she asked me how quickly I could get to Surrey.’
    • ‘A gruff voice snarled from a dark corner behind them.’
    • ‘A gruff voice came from his left as he reached the mouth of the cave.’
    • ‘He'd been traveling all day and was looking for a good place to make camp when he heard the gruff voices laughing and talking loudly.’
    • ‘his voice was gruff but there was still a hint of anxiousness in his tone.’
    • ‘He speaks with a gruff voice, is balding and was last seen wearing a grey anorak and trousers.’
    • ‘He suddenly felt a rough rope around his neck and a gruff voice said to him, ‘Let go of the globe.’’
    • ‘Suddenly a gruff voice yelled something at her and she knew that her gazing had been noticed and it was time to move on.’
    • ‘In the centre a microphone hangs from the ceiling, some 30 yards high, to which the referee clings as his gruff voice hollers out the start of each round.’
    rough, hoarse, harsh, guttural, throaty, husky, croaking, rasping, raspy, gravelly, growly, growling
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    1. 1.1 Abrupt or taciturn in manner:
      ‘Robert's gruff, no-nonsense approach’
      • ‘His manner was gruff, and I could see his eyes were wet.’
      • ‘His gruff manner always belied a kindness in him that all his close friends knew he had.’
      • ‘There is something old-fashioned in his manner which may explain why he excels as gruff authority figures and flinty men of the West.’
      • ‘The speaker was a gruff man, short and stout, with a raggedy moustache and a balding head.’
      • ‘Under the gruff exterior was a gentle and sensitive man with a generous spirit.’
      • ‘Erik's smile faded away quickly when three gruff looking men approached him.’
      • ‘But despite his gruff exterior, it's obvious that his time in student journalism meant something to him.’
      • ‘The core message seems to be that saving lives is still noble, and the people who do it best have hearts of gold, even if that heart is buried under a gruff exterior.’
      • ‘A gruff man with a short temper and a big voice, his shortcomings were as obvious as his merits were hidden.’
      • ‘Thus McCarthy occasionally came across as gruff or grouchy in this World Cup and some reporters took delight in this.’
      • ‘And I met the man playing Baron Von Trapp, the gruff and grumpy Naval officer widower whose heart she melts.’
      • ‘Just beneath his gruff exterior lies a gentle soul seeking to fill a spiritual void with companionship.’
      • ‘His personality is more surprising: the gruff, taciturn public image back home turns out to be a myth.’
      • ‘He sounded gruff and short, though anyone looking at him could tell that he was worried about her.’
      • ‘I couldn't help laughing at his abrupt, gruff delivery of the estimate.’
      • ‘It is his kind, if rather terse and gruff manner that has turned his shop into an excellent meeting place for people and ideas.’
      • ‘Katherine took a deep breath, but it was cut short by the muffling that a gruff hand over her mouth had caused.’
      • ‘I responded nay, three times nay, though my manner had become rather gruff, and I was curt with them.’
      • ‘To his friends the Orc was gruff, even rude, but deep inside he was all bark and no bite.’
      • ‘They are gruff and surly beings, generally compared in nature to humans.’
      abrupt, brusque, curt, short, blunt, bluff, no-nonsense
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Late 15th century (in the sense ‘coarse-grained’): from Flemish and Dutch grof coarse, rude, of West Germanic origin.