Definition of rough and tumble in English:

rough and tumble


  • A situation without rules or organization; a free-for-all.

    ‘the rough and tumble of political life’
    as modifier ‘the rough-and-tumble atmosphere of the dealing room’
    • ‘Clearly the formal setting was no inhibition to the rough and tumble of family life.’
    • ‘I smiled and extended my hand; she gave me a big bear hug, slapping my back like a rough-and-tumble uncle.’
    • ‘The boat was 14 feet long and it's clearly a boat for a lake not a rough and tumble area like the Berkeley Bay.’
    • ‘In the rough and tumble world of Mother Nature, those with natural advantages survive and grow.’
    • ‘Some bands get by on a rough and tumble sound; their lack of polish having the same effect as mold does on some foods: an unintended flavor.’
    • ‘The best of the landscapes meld nature's rough and tumble with the rough and tumble of the paint to rich effect.’
    • ‘He examines the rough-and-tumble world of Chicago party politics, where labor organizations were but one group of players.’
    • ‘Now, almost a year after leaving Leinster House, he does not miss the rough and tumble of politics.’
    • ‘Now the auto manufacturer is faced with a pivotal decision - how can it extend into mainstream SUV territory without losing its rough and tumble image?’
    • ‘One paradox of Spanish influence is that it could inspire not only a rough-and-tumble appreciation of reality but also an art-for-art's-sake aestheticism.’
    • ‘I rarely wore my shirts tucked into my breeches, but for the rough and tumble training I was doing, it had become necessary.’
    • ‘The rough and tumble isn't just restricted to the marketplace.’
    • ‘Newsgirls were to be found, but young females generally enjoyed fewer opportunities within the rough-and-tumble street culture milieu.’
    • ‘The nascent political order taking shape in the country also has a rough-and-tumble feel.’
    • ‘A horse that is too small does not have the scope to deal with the rough and tumble of jumping over fences.’
    • ‘Through the rough and tumble streets of Los Angeles, Crowe begins to hunt down Duke's ring of thugs and drug dealers in a furious rage or revenge!’
    • ‘Certain sequences show some signs of damage and wear, but this goes with the rough-and-tumble style of the film.’
    • ‘Vulnerability is nice in the confines of a lover's bed, or a partner's heart, but in the rough-and-tumble world of capitalistic corruption, it's the most lethal of Achilles heels.’
    • ‘He was a partier, a rough-and-tumble kid who didn't care what the consequences were as long as he got what he wanted.’
    • ‘What was then novel quickly turned into relentless attempts to create tension through marrying her fussy vocals with the rough-and-tumble textures of rap.’
    scuffle, struggle, fight, brawl, fracas, rumpus, melee, free-for-all, scrimmage
    View synonyms


Early 19th century: originally boxing slang.


rough and tumble