Definition of ruffle in English:

ruffle

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Disorder or disarrange (someone's hair), typically by running one's hands through it.

    ‘he ruffled her hair affectionately’
    • ‘Mrs Clarke smiled at her daughter, ruffling her hair affectionately.’
    • ‘He grabbed my head and ruffled my hair affectionately.’
    • ‘Emily smiled down at her son and ruffled his hair affectionately.’
    • ‘He ruffled her hair affectionately, and then, as if at an afterthought, pulled her close into a hug.’
    • ‘She ruffled his thick hair affectionately and laughed.’
    • ‘Before she could stop herself, she had leaned over and ruffled his blond hair affectionately.’
    • ‘The father laughs and jovially ruffles his son's hair.’
    • ‘She ruffled Will's hair affectionately and smiled at me.’
    • ‘Brian laughed and ruffled her hair affectionately.’
    • ‘She kissed him on the forehead and ruffled his already messy hair.’
    • ‘She ruffled his pale blonde hair, laughing when he jerked away.’
    • ‘There was a static snap as the television turned on and Reid walked back, ruffling my hair affectionately as he swept past me and into the next room.’
    • ‘In the end, Lady Eleanor settled for a tender, parting kiss on each boy's forehead, affectionately ruffling his hair as she did so.’
    • ‘These are your family men who ruffle their kids' hair and leave for office everyday in their neat clothes.’
    • ‘He grinned contentedly as he ruffled my already tangled hair.’
    • ‘Juliet ruffles his hair, destroying the very conscious disorder Benny strove to achieve.’
    • ‘I smiled and ruffled his hair, messing it up even more.’
    • ‘Trent chuckled and ruffled my hair affectionately.’
    • ‘He planted himself in the armchair next to me, ruffling my hair affectionately as he sat down.’
    • ‘Ruth ruffled Elizabeth's hair affectionately, much to the girls' annoyance.’
    disarrange, tousle, dishevel, rumple, run one's fingers through, make untidy, tumble, riffle, disorder
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    1. 1.1 (of a bird) erect (its feathers) in anger or display.
      ‘on his departure to the high wires, the starling ruffled his feathers and flirted his wings’
      • ‘He stares at me with beady eyes, occasionally ruffling his feathers and tilting his head from side to side.’
      • ‘Just then, a bird beside him ruffled its wings and flew away.’
      • ‘For several minutes, she took to staring at a bird sitting on a telephone wire, ruffling its wings.’
      • ‘The birds become lethargic, with a staggered gait, their feathers are ruffled, and the comb and wattles turn dark red or blackish.’
      • ‘It would just sit there, ruffle its clipped wing feathers and continue its neurotic seed shovelling and beak swinging.’
      • ‘Fortunately, the bird only ruffled a few of its feathers.’
    2. 1.2 Disturb the smoothness or tranquility of.
      ‘the evening breeze ruffled the surface of the pond in the yard’
      • ‘The outside air breezed in, ruffling women's dresses in the process.’
      • ‘A slight breeze ruffles the new leaves on the trees and discovers a discarded morning newspaper on a bench.’
      • ‘That night, when it was quiet, and all that could be heard was the slight hush of a breeze ruffling the trees' leaves.’
      • ‘A cool night breeze ruffled the curtains of the window and swept in a fragrance of spicy earth.’
      • ‘It was an exquisite fall day, drenched in sunlight with a soft breeze ruffling the brightly colored leaves.’
      • ‘Hiking a slope to the east, I rose above one of the world's great mountain scenes, trout leaping in the lazy creek and a breeze ruffling the spruce trees.’
      • ‘He gave her an incredulous stare and continued pulling her towards the window, which was still open, the soft breeze ruffling the curtains.’
      • ‘A breeze ruffled the grass, and raised waves through the pasture.’
      • ‘The air was warm and a slight breeze ruffled the trees.’
      • ‘I was contemplating opening my window to see if there was a breeze to ruffle my curtains when I heard it.’
      • ‘It is somehow extremely loud and is followed by a long moment of utter silence and calm during which the breeze gently ruffles the pleated hem of the woman's blue burqa.’
      • ‘As when a breeze ruffles the surface of a reflecting pool, ripples ran rapidly across her vision, momentarily distorting the figures.’
      • ‘Now that there was a light breeze ruffling through the flags the castle seemed more intimidating now.’
      • ‘Someone had opened a window and the cool morning breeze drifted in and ruffled the white hospital curtains.’
      • ‘Snorkel early in the day, before Hawaii's trade winds ruffle the surface and stir up sand in the water, which reduces visibility.’
      • ‘Everyone was quiet; the only thing heard was the slight breeze ruffling the leaves.’
      • ‘A strong breeze ruffles the surface of the lake.’
      • ‘He stared out over the ocean, the breeze ruffling his clothing.’
      • ‘A light onshore breeze ruffled the surface of the bay, a few feet away I watched a turkey buzzard or vulture fly by.’
      • ‘The next morning I woke to sun shining on my face and a soft breeze ruffling the curtains.’
      make ripples in, ripple, riffle, roughen
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    3. 1.3 Disconcert or upset the composure of (someone)
      ‘Brian had been ruffled by her questions’
      • ‘Yet she has never allowed petty jealousies to ruffle her.’
      • ‘It was nice to know that something could ruffle the pompous guard.’
      • ‘I was briefly ruffled, because few things are held as closely and protectively as one's musical preferences.’
      • ‘He was easily ruffled, which led to tension headaches and high blood pressure.’
      • ‘I was ruffled and quickly reacted by sending up the windows.’
      • ‘She was ruffled by the King's unchanging expression and tone of voice.’
      • ‘Aaron had been so cool and composed a moment ago, as if nothing in the world could ruffle him.’
      • ‘She could tell that he was ruffled, but he wasn't able to come up with anything to say until she was clearly out of his radius.’
      • ‘His reaction to the film, reportedly based on the life of his father, is in keeping with his nature - the question does not ruffle his equanimity.’
      • ‘Instead of looking at the big picture, we became unduly ruffled by near-term issues.’
      • ‘Nothing seemed to ruffle him and, what he may have lacked in attentiveness, he made up in luck.’
      • ‘Great champions are often ruffled, sometimes shaken, but never spooked.’
      • ‘Perhaps that's the problem; her singing is almost always sunny - violent emotions don't ruffle her composure for long.’
      • ‘Normally nothing ruffled his composure, and yet there he was, blushing like a callow youth at the sight of her ankle.’
      • ‘It didn't ruffle him in the slightest; if anything, his smile broadened.’
      • ‘If he should rage, his act will not ruffle me, for I shall play the wise man's part and practice a smooth-tempered self-control!’
      • ‘It would take someone a lot more important than you to ruffle me.’
      • ‘The officials are keenly aware they risk ruffling customers by straying outside the boundaries of its conservative styling.’
      annoy, irritate, irk, vex, nettle, needle, anger, exasperate
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  • 2usually as adjective ruffledOrnament with or gather into a frill.

    ‘a blouse with a high ruffled neck’
    • ‘He wore one of those ruffled shirts that Alora associated with artists in eighteenth-century France.’
    • ‘He was lightly muscled and wore a grey ruffled, button down shirt, with the first two buttons undone.’
    • ‘The sleeves of the shirt were, thanks to Alicia, immaculately black, the frills of the cuffs ruffled lightly.’
    • ‘I was wearing a $700 jean skirt and complete faded jacket with a pink ruffled shirt.’
    • ‘Rab offers Johnny his outgrown linen ruffled shirt and a corduroy jacket.’
    pleat, shirr, pucker, tuck, fold, corrugate, crimp, crease, scrunch up
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noun

  • 1An ornamental gathered or goffered frill of lace or other cloth on a garment, especially around the wrist or neck.

    • ‘Once it had been clean and beautiful, with ruffles and lace.’
    • ‘Scalloped edges, lace and ruffles infuse the clothes with motion and make for an exciting silhouette.’
    • ‘Do not wear blouses with fancy details and ruffles.’
    • ‘It's almost a throw-back to the 19th Century of ruffles and lace.’
    • ‘Look out for soft ruffles, velvet ribbons and frills.’
    • ‘The arms stopped at the elbow in a double ruffle edged with lace and the whole outfit was set off with a matching choker.’
    • ‘While I will put my boys in girls' clothes, I do have standards: I avoid ribbons, lace, frilly ruffles, little pink flowers, and sequins.’
    • ‘He wore pitch-black pants and a black shirt with understated ruffles at the neck and sleeves.’
    • ‘Edith wore a sweet pink gingham dress with a white ruffle at the hem and a white apron.’
    • ‘Corsages, ruffles, patches, rosettes, ribbons, buttons, rivets and safety pins are all very popular with fashion folk this summer.’
    • ‘You're a prime candidate for divided skirts, tiered skirts and those with hemline ruffles.’
    • ‘The only shirts I own and wear are completely plain, all without ruffles or frills of any kind - in fact, I would have thought they were totally indistinguishable from men's shirts.’
    • ‘She appeared in a white suit jacket with an apricot blouse and a prim ruffle down the front.’
    • ‘Detailing on the waistline was simple, yet classic, a departure from the days when clothes having excessive lace and ruffles were considered the in-thing.’
    • ‘The garment is often trimmed with lace, ruffles, bows and ribbons, optionally with spaghetti straps.’
    • ‘And then there was the mix of calico, structured ruffles and sculptural pleats all in one outfit.’
    • ‘His shirt had a few ruffles on it and his pants were short.’
    • ‘She wore a flowing pale yellow skirt with ruffles and a silken blouse with puffed sleeves.’
    • ‘My very favorite skirt has a subtle ruffle along the hem, it's not ultra-girly but it gives it a little something extra.’
    • ‘It's not like a newborn cares about bows and ruffles, and it's not like she'll grow up any more or less feminine as a result of what she wears.’
    frill, flounce, ruff, ruche, jabot, furbelow
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  • 2A vibrating drumbeat.

    • ‘They started with the sounding of a bugle, leading in to a drum ruffle from the drum corps, and then swinging into their rock group performance.’
    • ‘The ruffle on drums and the flourish on bugles are sounded together, up to four times depending on the prominence of the deceased.’

Phrases

  • ruffle someone's feathers

    • Cause someone to become annoyed or upset.

      ‘tampering with the traditional approach would ruffle a few feathers’
      • ‘I felt that I'd ruffled his feathers up enough for the day, or at the very least a few hours.’
      • ‘Jess bumped a side table and sent it crashing to the dusty floor with a clang that shook my eardrums, ruffled my feathers with the irritating vibration, and made every one of us jump.’
      • ‘I would appear to have ruffled Mr Foxcroft's feathers in my letter of May 20.’
      • ‘All of this speculation has clearly ruffled Parker's feathers a little.’
      • ‘We seem to have at last ruffled their feathers and could be a force to be reckoned with.’
      • ‘It's been a difficult week for the committee that devised the rules, but not one that ruffled their feathers unduly.’
      • ‘It's this snobbish attitude toward work place interaction that ruffles my feathers.’
      • ‘Was Hannity trying to ruffle Jensen's feathers, knock him off balance in order to get him to react in anger?’
      • ‘They think this high profile meeting in London will ruffle his feathers.’
      • ‘She describes herself as a patient driver and even the ‘see a space and fill it’ mentality of London drivers fails to ruffle her feathers.’
      annoy, irritate, irk, vex, nettle, needle, anger, exasperate
      View synonyms
  • smooth someone's ruffled feathers

    • Make someone less angry or irritated by using soothing words.

      • ‘A little lie would indubitably make things all better, smooth Jake's ruffled feathers, and make everything in my life shiny again.’
      • ‘I muttered darkly, not liking the fact that he so easily smoothed my ruffled feathers.’
      • ‘I know I've stepped over the line and should probably smooth her ruffled feathers.’
      • ‘He shook his head and laughed in merriment as if to smooth Big Freddie's ruffled feathers.’
      • ‘I think this upset him a bit and I had to smooth his ruffled feathers via email.’

Origin

Middle English (as a verb): of unknown origin. Current noun senses date from the late 17th century.

Pronunciation

ruffle

/ˈrəfəl//ˈrəfəl/