One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A violent person, especially one involved in crime.
thug, roughneck, scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, lout, hooligan, hoodlum, vandal, delinquent, rowdy, bully boy, bully, bruteView synonyms
- ‘He too, the boy thinks, has known hard times: the bully on the next block, the ruffians in his third grade class.’
- ‘Even the tsotsis, the unkempt street ruffians of the 1930s, began to embrace the quest for style in the 1950s.’
- ‘Within a few hours even the toughest of the tough ruffians would break down and start confessing.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Obviously, it was a case of collusion between the state and the lawbreaking ruffians.’
- ‘These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians.’
- ‘The tactics of the violent ruffians failed in this year's election.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘A few days earlier a ruffian had snatched a woman's chain.’
- ‘Vidocq served a lucrative apprenticeship with various ruffians, vagabonds and swindlers.’
- ‘On New Year's Day 1753 an eighteen-year-old London maidservant called Elizabeth Canning was abducted in the City by two ruffians.’
- ‘No cooked food could be sold, and shops were not to shelter ruffians, thieves, or prostitutes.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘But Morgan makes enemies right away when he foils a mugging by a gang of local ruffians.’
- ‘They used to say soccer is a gentleman's game played by ruffians and rugby is a ruffian's game played by gentlemen.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Good heavens, you could have been killed going into a den of ruffians like that.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘He was, in fact, a leader of a gang of Essex ruffians, whose speciality was robbery with violence.’
Late 15th century: from Old French ruffian, from Italian ruffiano, perhaps from dialect rofia ‘scab, scurf’, of Germanic origin.
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