Definition of roughneck in English:



  • 1A rough and uncouth person.

    ‘the usual roughnecks and gangsters’
    • ‘Above all, every effort is made to avoid roughnecks and ‘muscle-bound morons.’’
    • ‘A bunch of roughnecks with feather-cut hair and Indian canoes was loitering by the river bank, smoke still wafting from the barrel of their gun.’
    • ‘Things improved after Popper challenged the leader of the roughnecks to a boxing match.’
    • ‘The Outback Australian roughneck is not more charitable, or enlightened, than his American counterpart - the redneck.’
    • ‘‘I was in the same roughneck neighborhoods, but just didn't associate with the roughnecks,’ she often said.’
    • ‘The local constable was earning his pay again breaking up fights between the roughnecks.’
    • ‘It wouldn't be politically wise for the ambitious local marshal to be associated with a roughneck like Horn.’
    • ‘When she showed up hurt and said a couple of roughnecks pulled her into the alley to kill her, I couldn't imagine why.’
    • ‘The power in Corb's songs is his ability to bring his world of roughnecks and steer roping to life on the stage.’
    • ‘In recent times the town has been rocked by criminal activities which have resulted in some people being killed in cold blood by roughnecks.’
    • ‘He was smart, liked to read, wasn't a roughneck like most kids, and liked being alone from time to time.’
    • ‘Over the next hundred years the Wind River Valley attracted only a few hardy farmers, ranchers, and roughnecks.’
    • ‘Ultimately the little roughneck escapes, and she bonds with the town's biggest nerd.’
    • ‘Despite their formidable learning and enlightenment, they possibly knowingly refused to distinguish between gentlemen and roughnecks, and did not prevent anyone from coming near them.’
    • ‘The roughnecks and hooligans have gone and instead families on a Saturday night dine alfresco on the broad shrub-lined pavements as though they were in Paris.’
    • ‘The family is barely holding together, and Charlie acts out with violent activity designed to impress a gang of roughnecks that he'd very much like to hang out with.’
    • ‘There are a lot of roughnecks in those camps, and who knows what kind of abuse she'll go through.’
    ruffian, thug, lout, hooligan, hoodlum, rowdy, bully boy, brawler
    ruffian, thug, scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, lout, hooligan, hoodlum, vandal, delinquent, rowdy, bully boy, bully, brute
    View synonyms
  • 2An oil rig worker.

    • ‘During the Interior secretary's tenure, Taylor jumped to more lucrative work as a pumper, roughneck, and roustabout on Wyoming's oil wells.’
    • ‘This was a dangerous area, but the skilled roughnecks and the roustabouts went about their business with seamless teamwork.’
    • ‘When I worked in the South as a roughneck on oil rigs and as a steamfitter, I saw men like Walt get hung out to dry.’
    • ‘The bump-backs cascade down the hierarchy of skills and seniority; the roustabouts and roughnecks in lesser-skilled positions and typically of recent hire go walking.’
    • ‘The roughnecks dodged him, toting boxes of stamped cargo goods and dirty mops to swab the deck.’
    • ‘Palmer himself was hired as roughneck in 1953, when he was 18.’
    • ‘He gave two-thirds of full-time employees - everyone from top management to roughnecks working on oil rigs - Net-linked laptops.’
    • ‘When he went there, he noticed that roughnecks who worked the rigs were maddened by a gelatinous black gunk that clogged up their drills.’


[no object]usually as noun roughnecking
  • Work on an oil rig.

    ‘his savings from roughnecking are gone’
    • ‘Folk who were in the jungle five years ago, they're working on the rigs now, roughnecking - think of that for a new beginning!’
    • ‘During the 1980s oil boom my oldest son roughnecked for his college money.’