Definition of gruff in US English:



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

    ‘she spoke with a gruff, masculine voice’
    • ‘his voice was gruff but there was still a hint of anxiousness in his tone.’
    • ‘He has a gruff voice, is thought to be a smoker and often smells of drink.’
    • ‘Soon after he had the crowd's attention with his tight rhymes, gruff voice, and theatrical delivery.’
    • ‘She was brought sharply back to earth by the gruff voice of the landlord yelling in her ear’
    • ‘Suddenly a gruff voice yelled something at her and she knew that her gazing had been noticed and it was time to move on.’
    • ‘The alien yelled, using his gruff voice, to his friends, who were standing just out of Leanne's line of sight.’
    • ‘His voice was rather gruff but there was kindness in his blue eyes.’
    • ‘A gruff voice snarled from a dark corner behind them.’
    • ‘He suddenly felt a rough rope around his neck and a gruff voice said to him, ‘Let go of the globe.’’
    • ‘A gruff voice came from his left as he reached the mouth of the cave.’
    • ‘He had a deep, gruff voice, and he said some things that bothered her.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Dave has a big, deep, booming gruff voice - that sounds like he gargles with gravel every single morning.’
    • ‘After five rings, I was about to hang up, when I heard a gruff voice answer.’
    • ‘His voice was gruff, but with a certain intellectual refinement to it.’
    • ‘Within seconds my accent and gruff voice had won her over and she asked me how quickly I could get to Surrey.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He speaks with a gruff voice, is balding and was last seen wearing a grey anorak and trousers.’
    • ‘Make up your own silly opposites, such as a high, squeaky voice and a low, gruff voice.’
    • ‘Based on his writing style, I imagined him a kind of playful, comedian's voice, when his real voice is quite gruff.’
    rough, hoarse, harsh, guttural, throaty, husky, croaking, rasping, raspy, gravelly, growly, growling
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    1. 1.1 Abrupt or taciturn in manner.
      ‘penetrate a gruff exterior and you will find him affable’
      • ‘Katherine took a deep breath, but it was cut short by the muffling that a gruff hand over her mouth had caused.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are gruff and surly beings, generally compared in nature to humans.’
      • ‘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 personality is more surprising: the gruff, taciturn public image back home turns out to be a myth.’
      • ‘I couldn't help laughing at his abrupt, gruff delivery of the estimate.’
      • ‘It is his kind, if rather terse and gruff manner that has turned his shop into an excellent meeting place for people and ideas.’
      • ‘His gruff manner always belied a kindness in him that all his close friends knew he had.’
      • ‘But despite his gruff exterior, it's obvious that his time in student journalism meant something to him.’
      • ‘Under the gruff exterior was a gentle and sensitive man with a generous spirit.’
      • ‘His manner was gruff, and I could see his eyes were wet.’
      • ‘And I met the man playing Baron Von Trapp, the gruff and grumpy Naval officer widower whose heart she melts.’
      • ‘Erik's smile faded away quickly when three gruff looking men approached him.’
      • ‘I responded nay, three times nay, though my manner had become rather gruff, and I was curt with them.’
      • ‘He sounded gruff and short, though anyone looking at him could tell that he was worried about her.’
      • ‘Thus McCarthy occasionally came across as gruff or grouchy in this World Cup and some reporters took delight in this.’
      • ‘There is something old-fashioned in his manner which may explain why he excels as gruff authority figures and flinty men of the West.’
      • ‘Just beneath his gruff exterior lies a gentle soul seeking to fill a spiritual void with companionship.’
      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.