One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A projecting starched frill worn round the neck, characteristic of Elizabethan and Jacobean costume.‘an Elizabethan ruff’
frill, flounce, ruche, jabot, furbelowView synonyms
- ‘In Elizabethan times the roots were dried and crushed and the powder was mixed with water and used to stiffen the ruffs worn by the gentry.’
- ‘He wore a dark blue outfit complete with tights and a large ruff around his neck.’
- ‘Throughout Lady Rebecca regaled members with interesting titbits and explanations of why the Elizabethans wore shifts, fur trimming, cuffs and ruffs, etc.’
- ‘By 1580 he had established a high reputation in Haarlem for miniature portraits in which sensitive faces, soft beards and crisp ruffs are drawn in metalpoint or engraved with delicate precision.’
- ‘As low necklines gave way to ruffs of starched lace, enameled gold and jeweled necklaces hung to the waist and below on men and women alike.’
- ‘A trip to a Leeds theatrical costumier's secured the fancy dress, complete with buckled shoes, breeches and elaborate cuffs and ruff.’
- ‘The globe echoes the shape made by the Queen's head with its surrounding ruff, like a planet in relation to the sun.’
- ‘Mascarenhas is a powdered dandy in silk stockings; a fluffy lace ruff brushes his chin.’
- ‘If honour meant wearing a great ruff around the neck, shame meant being denuded.’
- ‘Rembrandt depicts himself in a burgher's hat and cloak, as does Rubens, although the hats are dissimilar and Rembrandt wears a neck ruff.’
- ‘It's a grand pageant set in elaborate 17th century costumes of wigs, breeches, tights and ruffs.’
- ‘Tremain's costume drama distinguishes itself by mixing just a drop of earthy magical realism into its ruffs and codpieces.’
2A projecting or conspicuously coloured ring of feathers or hair round the neck of a bird or mammal.‘a ruff of long pointed feathers’‘my nape stirred like the ruff of a dog in a thunderstorm’
- ‘Bird feathers used in mate attraction may form huge crests, ruffs, or tails: the male peacock tail is a case in point.’
- ‘The differences in coat length are most apparent on the tail and ruff.’
- ‘I stretch out my finger and a brazen parakeet sidles onto it, inclining its head so I can gently stroke its chalk blue ruff, so downy tender that it feels almost moist.’
- ‘A generous ruff about the neck, and breeches on the hind legs are preferred.’
- ‘Aside from the schipperke's thick ruff, the most striking feature of the breed is its tail - or lack thereof, since the tail is typically docked.’
- ‘Juveniles have a dark crown with no plumes or ruff, and a mottled neck.’
- ‘The facial ruff and disk are larger in highly nocturnal species, as well as those that hunt prey travelling under the snow.’
- ‘The Angora's coat - medium long on the body, more profuse on the underside and ruff - is fine and silky with an inclination toward waviness.’
- ‘It walked with a stalking grace that reminded me of a big cat, perhaps a lynx, especially with those tufted ears and cheeks, and the furry ruff around the neck.’
- ‘The tail has a dark band at the end, with a lighter tip, which, like the dark ruff around the neck, is evident when fanned open.’
- ‘Behind the flock even the white tip of his tail and his ruff were quite invisible.’
- ‘The Iberian species, however, has a distinctly spotted coat of grayish fur with tints ranging from yellow to rusty orange, a flared ruff framing its face, black ear tufts and tail tips, and long hind legs.’
- ‘The dog trotted back out of the forest, trotting along happily, with the ruff of a pup in her mouth.’
- ‘In addition, bicolors have a white ruff, white legs and feet and may have patches of white on their bodies.’
- ‘Adults sport a shaggy ruff at the base of their necks.’
3A pigeon of a domestic breed with a ruff of feathers on its neck.
4A North Eurasian wading bird, the male of which has a large variously coloured ruff and ear tufts in the breeding season, used in display.
- ‘We determined the frequencies of polyandrous mating and multiple paternity in the ruff, a lekking shorebird with a genetic dimorphism in male mating behavior.’
- ‘Elsewhere, we came across storks, ruffs and egrets, and herons of all descriptions.’
- ‘About 50 species were recorded there including long distance migrants like pallid harriers, ruff and reeves, white ibis, comb ducks, etc.’
- ‘Purple moorehen, grey heron and a good number of duck species colonise this water body with a few unusual migratory birds such as ruff and reev, glossy ibis and open billed storks joining in.’
Early 16th century (first used denoting a frill around a sleeve): probably from a variant of rough.
Late 19th century: from ruffe.
1(in bridge, whist, and similar card games) play a trump in a trick which was led in a different suit.‘declarer ruffed and then led a heart’
- ‘The purpose of making a multiple lead is that provided that each opponent has at least one card of the suit led they cannot win by ruffing.’
- ‘South could have survived by ruffing with dummy's spade six and running the spade jack, but he extravagantly ruffed with dummy's jack, then played a spade to his queen.’
- 1.1with object Play a trump on (a card in another suit)‘South ruffs a low spade’
- ‘South ruffs a diamond in his hand, he takes the ace of clubs, ruffs a diamond, and leads the king and jack of clubs, pitching a spade from dummy when West covers.’
- ‘I ruffed the first club in my hand and then played a trump to the ace.’
- ‘Then I ruffed a diamond, ruffed my last heart with the king and ruffed another diamond.’
An act of ruffing or opportunity to ruff.‘he gave his partner a spade ruff’
- ‘It is often bad to lead the second round of hearts, because of the danger of giving a ruff and discard to the opponents, since there are only six cards in the suit.’
- ‘This strategy suits hands which look to be strong in honour cards or have a long suit that may be run through without ruffs by the opponent.’
Late 16th century (originally the name of a card game resembling whist): from Old French rouffle, a parallel formation to Italian ronfa (perhaps an alteration of trionfo ‘a trump’).
One of the basic patterns (rudiments) of drumming, consisting of a single note preceded by either two grace notes played with the other stick (double-stroke ruff or drag) or three grace notes played with alternating sticks (four-stroke ruff).
- ‘One passage suggests the right hand is playing open and closed high hat notes while simultaneously playing four-stroke ruffs with the left hand.’
- ‘The Four Stroke Ruff is a wonderful embellishment that has three grace notes and a prime note.’
Late 17th century: probably imitative.
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