Definition of ruffian in English:

ruffian

noun

  • A violent person, especially one involved in crime.

    • ‘And he had traveled many places, heard rumors of all sorts, and been threatened by ruffians and rogues who would have stolen from him or killed him; he had felt fear then.’
    • ‘A few days earlier a ruffian had snatched a woman's chain.’
    • ‘On New Year's Day 1753 an eighteen-year-old London maidservant called Elizabeth Canning was abducted in the City by two ruffians.’
    • ‘This first feature filmed in Irish follows the tale of an aging producer of poitin (the Irish equivalent of moonshine) and the two young ruffians who rob him.’
    • ‘They used to say soccer is a gentleman's game played by ruffians and rugby is a ruffian's game played by gentlemen.’
    • ‘Albert is a regular at this place, bringing along his gang of ruffians and louts to watch him eat sloppily and hurl insults at everyone that walks by.’
    • ‘Good heavens, you could have been killed going into a den of ruffians like that.’
    • ‘No cooked food could be sold, and shops were not to shelter ruffians, thieves, or prostitutes.’
    • ‘He was, in fact, a leader of a gang of Essex ruffians, whose speciality was robbery with violence.’
    • ‘The tactics of the violent ruffians failed in this year's election.’
    • ‘Within a few hours even the toughest of the tough ruffians would break down and start confessing.’
    • ‘He too, the boy thinks, has known hard times: the bully on the next block, the ruffians in his third grade class.’
    • ‘In early twentieth-century Chicago, where guns were readily available, local ruffians were less inclined to announce that they would abide no disrespect or take on all corners.’
    • ‘Well, so long as he could hide his emotions when they crossed paths with the thieves - bullies and ruffians were always drawn to the fearful.’
    • ‘These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians.’
    • ‘Vidocq served a lucrative apprenticeship with various ruffians, vagabonds and swindlers.’
    • ‘But Morgan makes enemies right away when he foils a mugging by a gang of local ruffians.’
    • ‘Obviously, it was a case of collusion between the state and the lawbreaking ruffians.’
    • ‘As the proportion of homicides committed with firearms surged, even the swaggering ruffians of local bars may have thought twice before challenging any and all onlookers.’
    • ‘Even the tsotsis, the unkempt street ruffians of the 1930s, began to embrace the quest for style in the 1950s.’
    thug, scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, lout, hooligan, hoodlum, vandal, delinquent, rowdy, bully boy, bully, brute
    larrikin
    tough, bruiser, heavy, gorilla, yahoo
    rough, yob, yobbo, bovver boy, lager lout, chav, hoodie
    keelie, ned
    hood, goon
    roughie, hoon
    miscreant
    myrmidon
    View synonyms

Origin

Late 15th century: from Old French ruffian, from Italian ruffiano, perhaps from dialect rofia scab, scurf of Germanic origin.

Pronunciation

ruffian

/ˈrəfēən/