Definition of gruff in English:



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

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