One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A projecting starched frill worn around the neck, characteristic of Elizabethan and Jacobean costume.
frill, flounce, ruche, jabot, furbelowView synonyms
- ‘A trip to a Leeds theatrical costumier's secured the fancy dress, complete with buckled shoes, breeches and elaborate cuffs and ruff.’
- ‘Mascarenhas is a powdered dandy in silk stockings; a fluffy lace ruff brushes his chin.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘The globe echoes the shape made by the Queen's head with its surrounding ruff, like a planet in relation to the sun.’
- ‘Throughout Lady Rebecca regaled members with interesting titbits and explanations of why the Elizabethans wore shifts, fur trimming, cuffs and ruffs, etc.’
- ‘He wore a dark blue outfit complete with tights and a large ruff around his neck.’
- ‘Tremain's costume drama distinguishes itself by mixing just a drop of earthy magical realism into its ruffs and codpieces.’
- ‘If honour meant wearing a great ruff around the neck, shame meant being denuded.’
- ‘It's a grand pageant set in elaborate 17th century costumes of wigs, breeches, tights and ruffs.’
- ‘Rembrandt depicts himself in a burgher's hat and cloak, as does Rubens, although the hats are dissimilar and Rembrandt wears a neck ruff.’
- ‘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.’
2A projecting or conspicuously colored ring of feathers or hair around the neck of a bird or mammal.
- ‘The dog trotted back out of the forest, trotting along happily, with the ruff of a pup in her mouth.’
- ‘Bird feathers used in mate attraction may form huge crests, ruffs, or tails: the male peacock tail is a case in point.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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 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 differences in coat length are most apparent on the tail and ruff.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘In addition, bicolors have a white ruff, white legs and feet and may have patches of white on their bodies.’
- ‘Behind the flock even the white tip of his tail and his ruff were quite invisible.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘The facial ruff and disk are larger in highly nocturnal species, as well as those that hunt prey travelling under the snow.’
- ‘Adults sport a shaggy ruff at the base of their necks.’
- ‘Juveniles have a dark crown with no plumes or ruff, and a mottled neck.’
- ‘A generous ruff about the neck, and breeches on the hind legs are preferred.’
3A northern Eurasian wading bird, the male of which has a large variously colored ruff and ear tufts in the breeding season, used in display.
- ‘About 50 species were recorded there including long distance migrants like pallid harriers, ruff and reeves, white ibis, comb ducks, etc.’
- ‘We determined the frequencies of polyandrous mating and multiple paternity in the ruff, a lekking shorebird with a genetic dimorphism in male mating behavior.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Elsewhere, we came across storks, ruffs and egrets, and herons of all descriptions.’
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.
- ‘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 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.
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
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).
- ‘The Four Stroke Ruff is a wonderful embellishment that has three grace notes and a prime note.’
- ‘One passage suggests the right hand is playing open and closed high hat notes while simultaneously playing four-stroke ruffs with the left hand.’
Late 17th century: probably imitative.
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