Definition of rough in English:



  • 1Having an uneven or irregular surface; not smooth or level.

    ‘they had to carry the victim across the rough, stony ground’
    ‘her skin felt dry and rough’
    • ‘I reached over and touched the five o'clock shadow that was already forming on his face, and felt the rough surface against his chin.’
    • ‘Abbey gulped as she felt her wrists get tied together with rough rope.’
    • ‘I leaned out as far as I could, looking down at the rough, sharp rocks on the beach below me.’
    • ‘She felt her back hit the rough surface of a tree.’
    • ‘I could feel the movement, the change in the vibrations as iron-bound wheels went from a rough surface to a smoother one and then back to the former.’
    • ‘Mold spores adhere more tightly to the rough surfaces than to the smooth skin of undamaged kernels.’
    • ‘I reached around in the darkness, fingers flinching from the prickliness of fibreglass insulation and splinters in the attic's rough, wooden beams.’
    • ‘His forehead is pressed against the rough, gritty plaster of the wall, sharp against his nose.’
    • ‘Scientists at the European Space Agency think the lighter areas indicate a rough surface, and the dark areas are smooth.’
    • ‘Furniture replaced itself, but rough cloth became silk and plain wood shiny mahogany.’
    • ‘The smooth slate floor of the bottom level reflects the rough basalt on the pathway through a preserved grove of evergreens.’
    • ‘The ornate rugs on the rough, wooden floor seemed to be nothing but pieces of carpet, dirt scuffing away the designs of its former glamour.’
    • ‘Gold leaf is too delicate to be laid directly on the relatively rough surface of plaster and so the gold leaf is backed with thicker and more robust tin foil using an oil mordant as the adhesive.’
    • ‘He ran a hand over the rough surface, walking around it.’
    • ‘The surface was rough behind my back, like sharp-edged pumice.’
    • ‘To the boy it sounded like a bag of dirty clothes was being dragged across a rough area of cement.’
    • ‘The rough concrete and uneven brick of the existing envelope contrast with smooth dividers displaying works of art.’
    • ‘I took his mantle and spread it on the rough wood surface, and with some difficulty he stretched out upon it, face down.’
    • ‘The next day I placed the figure upright on a piece of 400 grit sandpaper and smoothed out the rough surface of the putty.’
    • ‘The wooden floors were rough (not having ever been sanded), often giving the boy splinters.’
    uneven, irregular, bumpy, stony, rocky, broken, rugged, jaggy, craggy
    coarse, bristly, scratchy, prickly
    gnarled, knotty, lumpy, knobbly, nodular
    dry, leathery, weather-beaten
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    1. 1.1 Denoting the face of a tennis or squash racket on which the loops formed from the stringing process project (used as a call when the racket is spun to decide the right to serve first or to choose ends).
  • 2(of a person or their behaviour) not gentle; violent or boisterous.

    ‘pushchairs should be capable of withstanding rough treatment’
    • ‘It was a busy day and the rough customers were more than a little rowdy that evening.’
    • ‘As the Tavern continued to party, a table full of rough looking men stopped their discussion and looked up to where the fat cleric had his back to them.’
    • ‘The hand that was so gentle with love before was now harsh and rough with lust.’
    • ‘Alex's first attempt to save his friend from the rough sex maniac went sour, but he's determined to try again regardless of the consequences.’
    • ‘I have to admit it excited me the way he was rough and aggressive.’
    • ‘They all had a nice chuckle when she informed them that she had a bit of experience playing football, but was kicked out of the league because she was too rough for most of the boys.’
    • ‘Who knew that such a rough man could feel so right?’
    • ‘‘Yes, he owns the saloon and has a rough crowd hanging around all the time,’ she explained.’
    • ‘Unlike the kisses we shared in the past, this kiss was rough, hard, and I could smell and taste the alcohol on his breath.’
    • ‘Janet never abused Jamie, but she could be rough when she was drunk.’
    • ‘A group of rough looking men sat around a fire, drinking and laughing heartily.’
    • ‘He was harsh and demanding, rough and wild and erotic.’
    • ‘He was a rough man, but out of his venality and his bestial nature erupted this divine expression on the canvas.’
    • ‘The trouble is that they are not rough or ‘warehousey’ enough.’
    • ‘Shannon's left eyebrow rose in speculation as Rogers fidgeted with the twin coffee mugs in his rough iron grip.’
    • ‘At our old house in Chicago I had hung out with a rough crowd.’
    • ‘They're rough, dirty, and all about sweat and grime.’
    • ‘Of course, she wasn't stupid - the rough engineer had worn protective gauntlets to shield her hands from the impact of the armor.’
    • ‘He was rough, but not to the point where it actually hurt.’
    • ‘Mr. Woodhouse will be happy to have the boys temporarily under his care, because he thinks their father and uncle are too rough with them.’
    violent, brutal, vicious
    careless, clumsy, inept, unskilful
    boorish, loutish, oafish, brutish, coarse, crude, uncouth, rough-hewn, roughcast, vulgar, unrefined, unladylike, ungentlemanly, uncultured, ill-bred, ill-mannered, unmannerly, impolite, churlish, discourteous, uncivil, ungracious, rude, brusque, blunt, curt
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    1. 2.1 (of an area or occasion) characterized by violent behaviour.
      ‘the workmen hate going to the rough estates’
      • ‘The area they moved to was rough, and Troy was soon caught up in a bad crowd.’
      • ‘Living in a relatively rough part of town, I wasn't allowed out an awful lot.’
      • ‘It is a very rough place and rarely does anyone from this area go there.’
      • ‘Gonzalez, a Stanford University graduate, grew up in a rough part of the Bay Area.’
      • ‘He spent many of his summer days in back-alley taverns that were too rough for the usual city folk to drink in.’
      • ‘Kim thought for a moment and then remembered what Rosie had said about wanting her baby to grow up in a loving family and not on some rough London estate.’
      • ‘Our house was situated in a rough section of town that was now undergoing the early stages of gentrification.’
      • ‘Although not a particularly rough town it had its unruly inhabitants, as did all dock towns.’
    2. 2.2 (of weather or the sea) wild and stormy.
      ‘the lifeboat crew braved rough seas to rescue a couple’
      • ‘It was drawing close to winter, so the ocean was rough.’
      • ‘The winds, storms, and currents combine to whip up huge seas, driving rough waves on top of massive swells.’
      • ‘He hugged her again, and she clung to him as if he was a raft in a rough sea.’
      • ‘The sea was rough, but the setting sun had broken from the clouds and everything was vibrant in the sudden light.’
      • ‘We heard that the sea was rough over the Channel and did not expect you until the end of the week.’
      • ‘The first was that, though the sea was indeed rough, there was little rain, and the air lacked the clammy humidity of a thunderstorm.’
      • ‘The pass is granted for next weekend, and Nurse Ratched takes out a newsclipping about how rough and dangerous the sea is this year.’
      • ‘How strong those gales turn out to be will determine whether the economy faces clear sailing or rough seas.’
      • ‘The amazons at the oars negotiated the rough sea with the utmost of care, proving their fine skill as seafarers.’
      • ‘There seemed to be waves buffeting me, one after another, like bathing in a rough sea.’
      • ‘I do not think the man will come today; the seas are rough, and the horizon shows more storms to come.’
      • ‘I was pushing him slowly over the edge that went off into a rough sea of destruction.’
      • ‘‘This does not bode well with me,’ James said as he held his rifle as though it were a life preserver in rough seas.’
      • ‘Jeremiah stopped his wagon outside a hotel and stepped down, his legs wobbly and sore, as if he'd been in rough seas.’
      • ‘What a fragile vessel to sail into the rough seas that lay ahead!’
      • ‘There were rough seas in the area at that time, the coast guard said, adding they dispatched patrol boats and planes Tuesday to search for the ship.’
      • ‘I finally spotted her alone, outside on the veranda, looking at the rough ocean.’
      • ‘I chose to disregard it - I figured we had just hit rough seas.’
      • ‘On this day there were tiny little rippling waves breaking on the sandy beach, but Rita told me that on occasion it could become very rough.’
      • ‘The beach was rough that day; the waves were great if you were a surfer.’
      turbulent, stormy, storm-tossed, tempestuous, violent, heavy, heaving, raging, choppy, agitated
      stormy, wild, tempestuous, squally, wet, rainy, windy, blustery
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  • 3Not finished tidily or decoratively; plain and basic.

    ‘the customers sat at rough wooden tables’
    • ‘The walls, as in the rest of the house, are finished in traditional rough plaster that complements the timber doors and architraves.’
    • ‘She had spotted him sitting in one corner, dark except for the candle on the table, which was dripping hot wax onto the rough, wooden table.’
    • ‘If you think the finish is somewhat rough, you are right, but there is a good reason for this.’
    • ‘Brick stringcourses decorated rough stucco walls, while semicircular lunettes arched over the main floor windows.’
    • ‘The house didn't look as rough when the trio finished their work, and they were immensely proud.’
    • ‘The animation is rough and basic, crafted well but never flashy or spectacular.’
    • ‘In the corner there was a rough looking table made of cheap wood with many knot holes, with a corresponding short stool the Duke was seated on.’
    • ‘It seemed a little odd to his mind, this mixture of rough furnishings and the truly fine finish of the structure itself.’
    • ‘An inventory of the National Gallery's furniture in 1856 lists only seven and a half dozen oak chairs and one rough deal table.’
    • ‘Aunt Marion and Mrs. Nichols were both in the kitchen, sitting together at the rough and ancient table.’
    • ‘A rough, wooden, two-stick candelabrum graced one table, while the other sported a heavy glass oil lamp.’
    plain, basic, simple, rough and ready, rustic, rude, crude, primitive, spartan, uncomfortable
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    1. 3.1 Put together as a temporary measure; makeshift.
      ‘he had one arm in a rough sling’
      • ‘He was standing frozen in the doorway, a rough sack of belongings slung over his shoulder.’
      • ‘Throw together a rough prototype to bounce off users.’
      • ‘Drake grabbed a handful of his hair and twisted cruelly just as he finished tying off the rough bandage.’
      • ‘The finished products were rough looking, but they held together.’
      primitive, simple, basic, rudimentary, rough and ready, rough-hewn, make-do, makeshift, improvised, cobbled together, thrown together, homespun, unfinished, unpolished, unformed, undeveloped
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    2. 3.2 Lacking sophistication or refinement.
      ‘she took care of him in her rough, kindly way’
      • ‘Ultimately this scheme has to do with the architects' pleasure in materials and light, and in juxtaposition of the rough and refined.’
      • ‘They spoke together in their own rough language for a while before Rastif brought Sanchen over to them.’
      • ‘Yet delicacy is not defeated, and this ambiguity in Jansons's paint handling - is it rough or is it refined?’
      boorish, loutish, oafish, brutish, coarse, crude, uncouth, rough-hewn, roughcast, vulgar, unrefined, unladylike, ungentlemanly, uncultured, ill-bred, ill-mannered, unmannerly, impolite, churlish, discourteous, uncivil, ungracious, rude, brusque, blunt, curt
      View synonyms
    3. 3.3 Not fully worked out or including every detail.
      ‘he had a rough draft of his new novel’
      • ‘Even though details are still rough, it's good to know that it placed so much thought into this masterpiece.’
      • ‘Firstly, the system is being developed online from 6 years of rough draft notes.’
      • ‘I'm writing something real interesting, maybe I'll lend you the rough draft.’
      • ‘Whoever drew them must have seen the two before, for the pictures were quite detailed, even for a rough sketch.’
      • ‘So, using the dividend yields seen during the 1998 crisis, rough target prices can be produced.’
      • ‘He only did a rough draft, but he said he'd draw in all the fine details tomorrow.’
      • ‘I performed a very rough draft to an invited Parliamentary audience.’
      • ‘Now that I was getting somewhere, I took out another piece of paper to write my rough draft on.’
      • ‘Some manuscripts include rough and final drafts, and galley and page proofs.’
      • ‘Conversely, the ‘performer’ will be able to generate a rough Labanotation score that can be refined by a notator.’
      • ‘Each story comes off as a rough draft in need of polish.’
      • ‘As a working artist, when I look back on my early work I look at a rough draft of myself.’
      • ‘While no fully unified vision emerged, the basic parameters of a rough consensus were forged during these years.’
      • ‘I wrote various rough drafts, too many of them sarcastic.’
      • ‘Then, especially after I finally read the rough draft of the paper, I realized that was a pretty silly idea.’
      • ‘We started writing together when I approached her with an idea and a rough draft of a vampire script.’
      • ‘The book reads like a rough draft, not a polished book.’
      • ‘When I am drawing, I use pencils for rough drafts and pens for final copies since it makes my drawings look more professional.’
      • ‘This is a rough draft of a story and therefore the continuity is messed up.’
      • ‘Woodward's book is just the first, very rough draft of that key time in America's history.’
      preliminary, hasty, quick, sketchy, cursory, basic, crude, rudimentary, rough and ready, raw, unpolished, unrefined
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    4. 3.4 (of stationery) used for making preliminary notes.
      ‘rough paper’
  • 4(of a voice) harsh and rasping.

    ‘his voice was rough with barely suppressed fury’
    • ‘Her rough voice sounded almost hysterical as she dropped to her knees next to him, turning his lifeless body over and checking for a pulse.’
    • ‘The soldier's voice was rough as he spoke to the innkeeper.’
    • ‘When he spoke, his voice was rough and husky, barely above a whisper.’
    • ‘Devon's voice was rough from coughing, but he spoke up.’
    • ‘After a short pause, he heard the door open, followed by his uncle's rough voice before the latter finally appeared in his line of vision.’
    • ‘A rough voice snagged her attention as they stopped before the gate.’
    • ‘Unable to even squint at the harsh light, her voice was rough and dry.’
    • ‘His rough voice suddenly seemed more attractive than threatening.’
    • ‘Gavin's eyes had turned so dark a grey that they were nearly black, and his voice was rough with suppressed frustration and anger.’
    • ‘‘I suppose if we're to be living together I should know who you are,’ he said in his rough voice.’
    • ‘The ‘leader’ asked in a rough voice that seemed more like a growl.’
    • ‘‘Majesty, we bring you a gift for the Prince,’ the man said in a rough voice.’
    • ‘She suddenly heard a rough voice yell to her from the shadows.’
    • ‘Considering his height, then the steely look and his rough voice, both of which reminded me a lot of Carey, he was a rather intimidating person, even to me.’
    • ‘Whispers followed that yell until a rough voice came out of nowhere.’
    • ‘Jeffrey's voice was rough and his words were harsh but Anthony remained calm and cool, save his eyes.’
    • ‘The voice was rough, but soothing, and she began to feel safer.’
    • ‘Her voice was rough even though her words were velvet; it was as if her vocal cords had been run against stones over the years and no longer able to speak gently.’
    • ‘His voice was unusually rough and that was all he said.’
    • ‘She stayed up in the tree until a rough voice called out.’
    gruff, hoarse, harsh, rasping, raspy, husky, throaty, gravelly, guttural
    raucous, discordant, cacophonous, grating, jarring, strident, harsh, dissonant, unmusical, inharmonious, unmelodious
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    1. 4.1 (of wine or another alcoholic drink) sharp or harsh in taste.
      ‘he refilled the mug with rough cider’
      • ‘It is a lusty, even rough blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan.’
      • ‘A fine wine match here is this rustic, slightly rough and spicy 100 per cent organic red, with enough heat and heft to manage the lamb.’
      • ‘After eight hours, we had gone solo and had splendid dog fights over the moors, huge fun, especially after two pints of rough cider!’
      • ‘The rough red Italian vino was on the table for every meal and we drank it instead of water, not being too certain of the purity of the ship's drinking water.’
      • ‘Good weight of fruit and a vaguely rough tannins lead to an unsurprising warm alcoholic finish.’
      sharp-tasting, sharp, sour, acidic, acid, vinegary
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  • 5Not exact or precise; approximate.

    ‘they had a rough idea of when the murder took place’
    ‘it'll cost about £50, at a rough guess’
    • ‘And more than a third of people said they either had no idea or only a rough idea how much interest they were paying on their debt.’
    • ‘Gerry threw the fifth empty can into the rough direction of the garbage can.’
    • ‘I normally have a rough idea as to how much money I need to pay out each month.’
    • ‘In a rough approximation, it works the same way as lint, and lint's users will need very little time to understand how to use it.’
    • ‘We may perceive effects as real but they are in no way approaching even a rough approximation of reality and probably never will.’
    • ‘There is no exact figure of how many people actually lived on the Hundred of Farnham, but we can have a rough idea of how many died.’
    • ‘A rough measure of self-citation may be found in the links to other, affiliated sites.’
    • ‘At a rough guess, that would give use room for around 800 songs, which is still plenty.’
    • ‘I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this story, but I have a rough idea.’
    • ‘Having got a rough idea of how the coinage worked, we need to work out how much that was worth in modern terms.’
    • ‘Using a set of digital scales, I made a very rough measure and found that it required about 6.5kg of force to compress the spring.’
    • ‘I have a rough idea who, but I want to keep it a secret until I'm positive of the facts and evidence.’
    • ‘It is true that such rough measures of valuation are notoriously unreliable market timing tools, but they can be an indication of stock market risk.’
    • ‘I have a rough idea what kind of sight awaits beyond that door, but that still doesn't make me any keener to go out there.’
    • ‘The number of patents can thus only be used as a rough measure of the innovative capacity of a country.’
    • ‘This ratio is a rough measure of the operating leverage a company can achieve in the conduct of the operational part of its business.’
    • ‘Here you get a very rough idea what the inside is going to look like.’
    • ‘When I had first started the story, I had a rough idea of where to go, but I guessed the story didn't turn out the way I had expected.’
    • ‘Based on a rough approximation of the time, probably he'd be eating - bran cereal and fresh juice, the same every morning.’
    • ‘A task, in common usability lingo, is a rough measure for a user activity.’
    approximate, inexact, estimated, imprecise, coarse-grained, vague, general, hazy
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  • 6informal Difficult and unpleasant or unfair.

    ‘the teachers gave me a rough time because my image didn't fit’
    ‘the first day of a job is rough on everyone’
    • ‘From the rough start at the beginning of the day, everything deteriorated.’
    • ‘Admittedly they got off to a rough start, but she was a very casual person.’
    • ‘Moreover, it was clear that a shy, sensitive boy like me was not fit to encounter the rough experience of a public school.’
    • ‘If we rely on such counsel, if enhancing the national welfare depends on such, we are in for a rough time.’
    • ‘Maybe we'd had a rough start, but it didn't turn out half bad.’
    • ‘Accompanying partners can have a rough time of it too.’
    • ‘All right, I understand that you've had a rough time, but there is no way you're finding out my past on these conditions.’
    • ‘He had a rough time with the bills piling up, the electricity and water going off sometimes when he least expected it.’
    • ‘Such a sharp change in input markets is bound to lead to a rough transition as producers try to adapt technology to the new price environment.’
    • ‘She looked like she'd had a rough time, and there was a three-foot-thick solid wall a mile high around her heart.’
    • ‘Gideon and I had a rough start and it included many strange occurrences but we are happy and that is all that matters.’
    • ‘She was going to have a rough time with Wilson in the jungle for a year.’
    • ‘Cost overruns from the 1995 expansion made for a rough start in 1996.’
    • ‘How many more people who he had never heard of before (and that happened to get off at rough starts) were they going to pick up?’
    • ‘It's true, we may have given him a rough time last night, but I assure you, it's what any normal person would've done.’
    • ‘If this was the explanation, then they could be in for a rough time.’
    • ‘She was having a rough time explaining to Scott that she was involved with someone, and that he needed to back off.’
    • ‘From a rough start, he has proven adroit at managing these public moments.’
    • ‘Once they decided where to start, the going was rough.’
    • ‘He had a rough time of it, but it was he who informed me of your capture.’
    difficult, hard, tough, bad, unpleasant, demanding, arduous
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    1. 6.1 Unwell.
      ‘the altitude had hit her and she was feeling rough’
      ill, unwell, poorly, bad, out of sorts, indisposed, not oneself, sick, queasy, nauseous, nauseated, peaky, liverish, green about the gills, run down, washed out, faint, dizzy, giddy, light-headed
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  • In a manner that lacks gentleness; harshly or violently.

    ‘treat 'em rough but treat 'em fair’


  • 1British A disreputable and violent person.

    ‘the rear of the column was attacked by roughs’
    • ‘Two teams of roughs, clothed in only their union-suits, attempt to wrest the boar-skin from each other's possession.’
    • ‘Exhausted, the roughs finally shaken off, at 1 a.m. the sweat-soaked, frightened, and bedraggled dandy hammered at the door of his last-hope refuge.’
    ruffian, thug, lout, hooligan, hoodlum, rowdy, bully boy, brawler
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  • 2mass noun (on a golf course) longer grass around the fairway and the green.

    ‘his second shot lay in the rough’
    • ‘Paul Crowe, the club's golf manager, describes it to me as ‘primal - a battle with the elements and natural roughs.’’
    • ‘The 425-yard par four is a dog-leg right, with trees lining the left side and heavy rough and a fairway bunker on the right.’
  • 3A preliminary sketch.

    ‘I did a rough to work out the scale of the lettering’
    • ‘Some artists are willing and able to create roughs or prototypes to illustrate to a licensee just how well their work would suit products.’
    • ‘They want something new every time, and heaven forbid you actually made a ‘good design’ on the first set of roughs.’
    • ‘Since most do not want to believe me, at a couple of random points during the semester, I will take one of the student's pinned-up roughs and wax poetic about various points and rationales.’
    • ‘I have roughs for about four or five more, including Oliver Twist and a couple of others I should be able to get to.’
    • ‘Behind the jar, a sketch pad is peopled with figurative roughs, historical drafts - the preliminaries of art and history, of cultural recognition.’
    • ‘Then I went into the mixing studio for six weeks and worked from 7.00 am to 8: 30 am doing the drawings and colour roughs.’
    preliminary sketch, draft, outline, mock-up, model, artist's impression
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  • 4An uncut precious stone.

    ‘miners discovered one of the biggest diamond roughs in history’
    • ‘Over the course of six decades, Frank Sinatra managed to be both the diamond and the rough.’


  • 1Work or shape (something) in a rough, preliminary fashion.

    ‘flat surfaces of wood are roughed down’
    • ‘Few anchorages were available in this vast maze of coastline, with its network of inlets whose beds had been roughed in with decisive strokes of Nature's creative tools.’
    • ‘Using that comp, the artist roughs out a model in Maya.’
    • ‘The closet bend and toilet floor flange must be roughed in first.’
    1. 1.1rough something out Produce a preliminary and unfinished version of something.
      ‘the engineer roughed out a diagram on his notepad’
      • ‘One day in March I was roughing out a scene in the script in which the off-screen voice of my aunt was introducing the action in the laundry room of a typical Argentine house.’
      • ‘Once Thompson had roughed out a design that divided the 3,300 square feet into four distinct areas, Lennon took a look and had him open up the design to allow for more square footage in the A room.’
      • ‘There is however one last snaggette to the system we've just been roughing out.’
      • ‘Woke this morning with the grim realization that I had not polished the column - in fact, I'd just roughed it out, sketched out the basic ideas.’
      • ‘Working with the comp and some basic reference colors, the understructure of the ship is roughed out.’
      • ‘In the beginning, we would sit together at a computer in New York or Chicago and rough things out, which was a lot of fun but extremely unproductive.’
      draft, sketch out, outline, block out, mock up
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  • 2Make uneven.

    ‘rough up the icing with a palette knife’
    • ‘The middle of the album is largely filled with the former, leaving the latter to rough up the record's edges.’
    • ‘Peter smiled and roughed his hair like he was just a kid.’
    • ‘The ice is roughed up pretty badly, which slows things down and keeps me from busting my tail.’
    • ‘It was flat at the sides, where it was cut quite short, and the top was longer, his fringe was roughed up, the kind of style that makes you want to run your fingers through it!’
    • ‘Grosvenor used a chain saw to rough up the top face of the work, which is at a tall viewer's eye level.’
    roughen, make rough
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  • 3rough itinformal Live in discomfort with only basic necessities.

    ‘she'd had to rough it alone in digs’
    • ‘Besides, it doesn't take much to taste good when you are roughing it.’
    • ‘It's all very well roughing it in your twenties, but it tends to lose its novelty after a while.’
    • ‘He has certainly roughed it and it would be very unfair if someone else comes in and is appointed coach.’
    • ‘‘I'm all for sleeping in these clothes and roughing it tonight,’ she muttered.’
    • ‘Man cannot live by roughing it alone, which is why the first part of my journey is spent in the five-star opulence of the Tanjung Aru Resort in the state capital, Kota Kinabulu.’
    • ‘Little Nicky may be an exact copy of his DNA-donor, but Gordie was a stray for a couple of years and roughed it.’
    • ‘She can picture herself roughing it with a backpack and Eurail pass - as long as there is a massage and room service at end of the trek.’
    • ‘With all their food provided by others, their idea of roughing it is to park a Winnebago in a campsite and worry that they won't be able to use their satellite dish when the extension cord doesn't reach the outlet.’
    • ‘There was nothing like roughing it, though maybe last night had gotten a little too rough.’
    • ‘How many other commercially successful directors, at 40-plus, would head off to the Afghan border to rough it with a DV camera?’
    • ‘Theoretically, if the tent has stayed up, then we could have roughed it in it.’
    • ‘Is there even a restaurant here or are we roughing it on the beach?’
    • ‘Tell me you'd rather be out here roughing it, then at home and cozy.’
    • ‘Of course, with him, roughing it doesn't actually mean roughing it.’
    • ‘She just wasn't used to roughing it so much and it didn't help that Trom and Vicki started arguing with one another again.’
    • ‘It can scarcely be said that Byron and his staff were roughing it at Metaxata.’
    • ‘She also found that while she was supposed to be attending equestrian lessons, she was ditching them more and more often in favor of simply saddling her horse western style and roughing it on the trails.’
    • ‘So Tony once roughed it on a London park bench, having travelled there to try and become a rock star.’
    • ‘She thinks that roughing it is going without a nail file.’
    • ‘If he had the choice of sleeping in a warm bed or roughing it, he'd obviously choose the first.’


  • bit of rough

    • informal A male sexual partner whose toughness or lack of sophistication is a source of attraction.

      ‘the actor is fast becoming everyone favourite bit of rough’
      • ‘So, whilst many gay men like a bit of rough there are obviously many who like a bit of posh.’
      • ‘But Bourne creates a parallel story in which the hero's neglected fiancée, Glenda, is picked up by a check-shirted, trumpet-playing bit of rough.’
      • ‘Beers not cocktails are the order of the day but you might pick up a nice bit of rough on the way out.’
      • ‘This reading implies that the tragedy could have been averted if only Beatrice had recognised her longing for a bit of rough, and had not pretended to fancy the aristocratic squares a woman of her class was expected to marry.’
      • ‘If anyone ever needs proof that he is more than a meat-fisted warrior and rather attractive bit of rough, they should watch this film.’
      • ‘So what, she's his little bit of rough on the side?’
      • ‘I always knew I'm just a bit of rough while you rebound from the divorce.’
      • ‘And she switches expertly from the upper crust wife yearning for a bit of rough to the cold company strategist.’
      • ‘The heroine of Martinu's Mirandolina seduces a self-confessed misogynist, only to reconfirm his prejudices when she dumps him for a bit of rough.’
      • ‘‘They've cottoned on to me as a bit of northern erotica,’ he has jokingly said of the women that turn up to his readings, ‘a bit of rough.’’
  • in the rough

    • 1Without decoration or other treatment; in a natural state.

      ‘a diamond in the rough’
      • ‘Port Royal is a gem in the rough, a fact that the English Royals are quite aware of.’
      • ‘Well, they were kind of picked over, but I found some diamonds in the rough.’
      • ‘Those who made the effort to find the show discovered a true diamond in the rough - a show that captured everything good about improvisational comedy in a pseudo-sitcom format.’
      • ‘But she wants to stay in the rough so I should just leave her that way.’
      • ‘No let us not discuss me darling, you are topic of everyone in town, and deserve it completely, for you are the brightest sun and the diamond in the rough of all the unpolished rocks that are the other jewels.’
      • ‘Lead may be worked directly, by being hammered or beaten into shape, or indirectly, melted and cast as with bronze, or it may be cast in the rough and then finished by hammering.’
      • ‘Despite how content some of us may be with Linux in the rough, nontechnical users don't always appreciate the struggle.’
      • ‘And so begins a tale of romance between the lowest of the low and a rich politician who must learn to love this diamond in the rough as she truly is.’
      • ‘In the presence of greatness, especially in the rough, where honor is often due the sage who stands outside the affairs of the world, every word or action can be persuasive.’
      • ‘Despite those small complaints, I feel this film was an overlooked gem in the rough during its theatrical run, and would make a fine rental or purchase now that it is out on DVD, especially for those readers with children.’
    • 2In difficulties.

      ‘even before the recession hit, the project was in the rough’
      • ‘The road of his thought was labyrinthine and sometimes ended in the rough of Vietnam or Richard Nixon.’
      • ‘A group of 10 partners bought the course as a real estate investment in 1988, just in time for the regional real estate market to land in the rough.’
  • rough and ready

    • 1Crude but effective.

      ‘a rough-and-ready estimating method’
      • ‘He's recorded live, too, which leaves some of Jamie's piano solos sounding rough and ready, but gives the performances the power of a live show.’
      • ‘The sporting code, which had been rough and ready for most of the nineteenth century, especially in Africa, began to impose more self-restraint on hunters.’
      • ‘Obviously these figures are rough and ready, but they evidence a point.’
      • ‘It's rough and ready and it's simple lack of visual elegance makes it so much more enjoyable.’
      • ‘It's very rough and ready, and a bit ragged round the edges, but it does work, and I've made very sure to point out to anyone looking that it's not the real odeon website.’
      • ‘The result is ragged, rough and ready, very fresh and completely invigorating.’
      • ‘Churning out three and four-deckers at his factory rate of production (and he did much else than write novels) meant that Scott was occasionally obliged to be rough and ready in the finer points of construction.’
      • ‘So it's still a little rough and ready, although it clearly is maturing, I think.’
      • ‘‘The recording session was a little rough and ready - the song was literally made in a room in someone's house,’ Tom laughs.’
      • ‘It is pretty rough and ready but it is asking the right questions.’
      basic, simple, crude, unrefined, unpolished, unsophisticated
      preliminary, hasty, quick, sketchy, cursory, basic, crude, rudimentary, rough and ready, raw, unpolished, unrefined
      plain, basic, simple, rough and ready, rustic, rude, crude, primitive, spartan, uncomfortable
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1(of a person or place) unsophisticated or unrefined.
        ‘the Hague, a town so bourgeois it makes Amsterdam seem rough and ready’
        • ‘‘If it was all too perfect it wouldn't have had that kind of rough and ready atmosphere to it that gives it its magic,’ explains Evelyn.’
        • ‘The Old Town, in its heyday, was apparently a teeming place, rough and ready and full of humanity with all its flaws, vices and passion.’
        • ‘He certainly secured advantageous marriages for his children and, despite a sometimes rough and ready personal manner, he attracted numerous clients.’
        • ‘One of these men is the rough and ready Sam Hell (Piper).’
        • ‘His characters - the men, at least - are rough and ready, and thrown down on the page with tons of energy.’
        • ‘He seemed the rough and ready type despite his skinny frame.’
        • ‘Many people who went past looked rough and ready so Arthur didn't approach them.’
        • ‘In either case, you may be as rough and ready with my master as you find needful; it will be he who has frightened her, and not you.’
        • ‘Sara and Victoria were both nice enough, Danielle was a little rough and ready but I thought her heart was in the right place, and Amy had always seemed perfectly friendly and personable.’
        • ‘But this is almost as much Bogart's film, and he was wonderful playing against type as a businessman instead of the rough and ready tough guys he was known for.’
        basic, simple, crude, unrefined, unpolished, unsophisticated
        View synonyms
  • rough around the edges

    • Having a few imperfections.

      ‘the text looks pretty rough around the edges’
      • ‘The camerawork is enthusiastic and the editing has some nice touches - cutting on beats and using splitscreen effects - but it's rough around the edges and would have benefited from a more seasoned hand to give a little more direction.’
      • ‘However, they're still a bit rough around the edges - sound quality would make an enormous difference.’
      • ‘In a way, the image quality matches the film - it's gritty and a bit rough around the edges, but it always delivers where it counts.’
      • ‘‘When we talked about what our goals were, all three of us said we really wanted to communicate a message, even if it's kind of rough around the edges - we all just really wanted to get it out,’ she says.’
      • ‘This one is rough around the edges; however, its heart is luminous.’
      • ‘The documentary is a bit grainy and rough around the edges, but where else are you going to learn about this unheralded piece of animation history?’
      • ‘This is a dark film, a bit rough around the edges, but its willingness to examine the connections between violence and ambition in the male world of the story makes it a bracing and memorable experience.’
      • ‘The stealth aspect of the game is also a little rough around the edges since sneaking past guards or security cameras is based almost entirely on trial and error.’
      • ‘This debut effort shows lots of promise, but is still rough around the edges.’
      • ‘It's not as smooth as I'd like it to be - I haven't really written fiction for a while, and my last effort wasn't very good, so things are a bit rough around the edges.’
  • rough as bags

    • informal Lacking refinement; coarse.

      • ‘They all knew that he was rough as bags on parade with no inkling of a word of command.’
  • the rough edge (or side) of someone's tongue

    • A scolding.

      ‘you two stop quarrelling or you'll get the rough edge of my tongue’
      • ‘The King pronounced himself delighted to be among ‘grave, learned and reverend men’, though he gave both bishops and Puritans the rough edge of his tongue as discussions proceeded over three days.’
      • ‘Even the poor old Pope gets the rough edge of his tongue - for showing him ‘a total lack of respect’ when they met.’
      • ‘After an unusual lashing with the rough side of his tongue, Ian ordered Grant to post sentries every few yards along the crest of the hill.’
  • rough edges

    • Small imperfections.

      ‘despite the clever programming, there are still a few rough edges to the system’
      • ‘While this board clearly has some rough edges, they all seem fairly minor and generally fixable.’
      • ‘But tempting as it is to smooth over the rough edges, a richer self-portrait of the artist emerges when you consider the inconsistencies within and between each film.’
      • ‘But, especially as the orchestra develops, and finds itself playing on other than home territory, some of those rough edges will need to be smoothed and polished.’
      • ‘You've got to take the rough edges off if it's going to succeed.’
      • ‘We live in a sanitized world, where spin and public image disinfects and sanitises any rough edges to our entertainment.’
      • ‘Radio can be good fun and tends to knock off the rough edges so that you can develop as a smoother performer, ready for your big break in front of the camera.’
      • ‘Of course there were some rough edges, sagging phrases, and intonation problems, but these were soon forgotten when swept up into an interpretation of passion and character.’
      • ‘And even if the play has the faintly over-workshopped quality you often find in American drama, in which all the rough edges are planed down, it still exerts a fiercely intelligent grip.’
      • ‘Attempts to open the play up by occasionally taking it outside are not very effective, but despite the film's rough edges, the issues that are brought up are fascinating.’
      • ‘But for others it takes off the rough edges, it takes out all the excitement of a work by trying to make it more acceptable to an audience.’
  • rough justice

    • Treatment that is not scrupulously fair or in accordance with the law.

      • ‘Such rough justice is popular, but it is hardly an ideal atmosphere in which to persuade people to in effect sign up voluntarily for the sex offenders’ register.’
      • ‘But in the meantime, it's hard to feel too bothered when the Internet community's long-established tradition of dispensing its own rough justice means that the world has one less spam king.’
      • ‘But there seems a kind of rough justice in his being forced to arbitrate between Satan and God in a diabolical chat show and, for all its shock and schlock tactics, the show implies that TV has a moral responsibility.’
      • ‘It is rough justice, but with a sound foundation.’
      • ‘These days it seems you don't have to look very far to find someone handing out pitchforks and torches and organizing a mob to administer rough justice on some bar.’
      • ‘The overall American legal framework was reinterpreted and adapted to fit the exigent circumstances, and rough justice was often the result.’
      • ‘It's rough justice, but justice all the same, from a certain point of view.’
      • ‘Yet comparing price-sales ratios offers a couple of advantages: First, it exacts a kind of rough justice, just the sort the market has been meting out lately.’
      • ‘The problem with such a proactive system of justice is that it is prone to rough justice.’
      • ‘But if that's what happened in these cases, it's at least rough justice.’
  • rough passage

    • 1A journey over rough sea.

      1. 1.1A difficult time or experience.
        ‘the rough passage faced by the legislation’
        • ‘The Stones had a rough passage through the Flower Power era, but came out the other side harder, flasher - with their eyes re-opened.’
        • ‘I told her that it might be a rough passage, but I believed that she had a good chance of being able to walk again.’
        • ‘Whatever way you look at it, a rough passage would be a fair appraisal for his sojourn at the top so far.’
        • ‘It's had a rough passage at times, particularly post-9 / 11.’
        • ‘Ultimately, Geldof discovered more about America and himself than America learned about him during the rough passage that climaxed at the Palladium in New York.’
  • rough stuff

    • Violent behaviour.

      ‘they wouldn't have stood for any rough stuff’
      • ‘When there's too much rough stuff going on, captains will get lectures from the referee in front of the penalty box and coaches are as adamant as ever when things don't go the team's way.’
      • ‘‘I guess she doesn't get into much rough stuff,’ I offer.’
      • ‘Usually, we give the recruits a week and a half before we start the rough stuff, but given the situation, we're resorting to shock tactics.’
      • ‘She keeps the rough stuff to a minimum, though the emotional abuse is continually evident, in a tale of two lovers caught up in their own personal tragedy.’
      • ‘Yet in a movie that dishes out its share of rough stuff, it's not the violence that gets to people - the pivotal scene in which a grown man cries has caused the biggest fuss.’
  • sleep rough

    • Sleep in uncomfortable conditions, typically out of doors.

      ‘he spent the night sleeping rough on the streets’
      • ‘After being made redundant, she slept rough for a few nights in a derelict building and was unlucky enough to be caught in a heavy frost.’
      • ‘It helps the vulnerable people in our society who find themselves homeless and having to sleep rough, along with those who are isolated or are trying to rebuild their lives.’
      • ‘As the temperature struggled to remain above zero, volunteers slept rough to raise awareness of the struggles facing the homeless on a day-to-day basis.’
      • ‘He cannot stay at grandmother's because of the condition of his licence and he is now sleeping rough.’
      • ‘On average three people a night sleep rough in Richmond.’
      • ‘On the night of January 8 he was found a bed, but had to sleep rough outside the Home Office the following night.’
      • ‘It shows that almost a third of young people put themselves at risk by staying with a stranger while away from home, two out of five young people slept rough, one in eight was physically hurt and one in nine was sexually assaulted.’
      • ‘They all slept rough the previous night and many managed to blank out the morning sniffing glue.’
      • ‘In it, they describe the circumstances in which they became homeless and visit some of the places in the district in which they have slept rough, from a cemetery in Keighley to a derelict barn.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, between three and six hundred people sleep rough in Melbourne every night.’
  • take the rough with the smooth

    • Accept the unpleasant aspects of life as well as the good.

      ‘someone with his high profile in sport must take the rough with the smooth’
      • ‘It was the physical game as predicted and both teams took the rough with the smooth.’
      • ‘But he has learned to take the rough with the smooth.’
      • ‘The rain did not help, but you have to take the rough with the smooth.’
      • ‘In an interesting formulation, he says of himself: ‘You have to take the rough with the smooth without getting so thick-skinned that you no longer bleed.’’
      • ‘After all, isn't reality about taking the rough with the smooth?’
      • ‘But we have had some dubious decisions against us and you have to take the rough with the smooth.’
      • ‘All too keen to be the centre of attention when announcing a waiting lists initiative or a patient-focused plan, he must learn to take the rough with the smooth and get stuck in where necessary.’
      • ‘‘As I said politics is politics, and I can take the rough with the smooth, but if this if the way we are going to go in the future, then politics, those involved in it, and County Mayo will not benefit,’ he said.’
      • ‘He never discounted the romantic element but at the same time looked for a completeness that can come by taking the rough with the smooth.’
      • ‘You can't come into politics and complain - you've got to take the rough with the smooth.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • rough someone up

    • Beat someone up.

      ‘he was roughed up in jail while awaiting trial’
      • ‘There the recruits were forced to kneel against the wall, where they were roughed up and drenched with cold water.’
      • ‘The pizzas are knocked flying as the thugs nab Stan and start roughing him up.’
      • ‘And Darrow then turns on Mencken and roughs him up rhetorically.’
      • ‘For the second start in a row, on Saturday night they made short work of the 39-year-old Yankee starter in their domicile, roughing him up for four runs and knocking him out after two innings.’
      • ‘The evening in question, I'd been cornered by a trio of thugs, who took great delight in roughing me up.’
      • ‘So, since the gangsters know they can get away with it they try to rough her up.’
      • ‘She ran a hand through her hair and felt the cut where she had been roughed up by Derek.’
      • ‘Bob thinks Decker is attempting to brainwash Sandra, so he roughs Decker up.’
      • ‘Fearing that the criminal would return and rough me up, I blew on my crime whistle to wake my neighbors for help.’
      • ‘Failing to do this will result in Internet thugs coming to your house and roughing you up.’
      beat up, beat, attack, assault, knock about, knock around, maltreat, mistreat, abuse, batter, manhandle
      View synonyms


Old English rūh, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch ruw and German rauh.