Definition of ruffle in US English:

ruffle

verb

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

    ‘he ruffled her hair affectionately’
    • ‘She kissed him on the forehead and ruffled his already messy hair.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He planted himself in the armchair next to me, ruffling my hair affectionately as he sat down.’
    • ‘These are your family men who ruffle their kids' hair and leave for office everyday in their neat clothes.’
    • ‘The father laughs and jovially ruffles his son's hair.’
    • ‘Mrs Clarke smiled at her daughter, ruffling her hair affectionately.’
    • ‘She ruffled his pale blonde hair, laughing when he jerked away.’
    • ‘In the end, Lady Eleanor settled for a tender, parting kiss on each boy's forehead, affectionately ruffling his hair as she did so.’
    • ‘Ruth ruffled Elizabeth's hair affectionately, much to the girls' annoyance.’
    • ‘He grabbed my head and ruffled my hair affectionately.’
    • ‘He ruffled her hair affectionately, and then, as if at an afterthought, pulled her close into a hug.’
    • ‘Brian laughed and ruffled her hair affectionately.’
    • ‘He grinned contentedly as he ruffled my already tangled hair.’
    • ‘Emily smiled down at her son and ruffled his hair affectionately.’
    • ‘Before she could stop herself, she had leaned over and ruffled his blond hair affectionately.’
    • ‘I smiled and ruffled his hair, messing it up even more.’
    • ‘She ruffled Will's hair affectionately and smiled at me.’
    • ‘Trent chuckled and ruffled my hair affectionately.’
    • ‘She ruffled his thick hair affectionately and laughed.’
    • ‘Juliet ruffles his hair, destroying the very conscious disorder Benny strove to achieve.’
    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’
      • ‘Fortunately, the bird only ruffled a few of its feathers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He stares at me with beady eyes, occasionally ruffling his feathers and tilting his head from side to side.’
    2. 1.2 Disturb the smoothness or tranquility of.
      ‘the evening breeze ruffled the surface of the pond in the yard’
      • ‘I was contemplating opening my window to see if there was a breeze to ruffle my curtains when I heard it.’
      • ‘He gave her an incredulous stare and continued pulling her towards the window, which was still open, the soft breeze ruffling the curtains.’
      • ‘That night, when it was quiet, and all that could be heard was the slight hush of a breeze ruffling the trees' leaves.’
      • ‘Everyone was quiet; the only thing heard was the slight breeze ruffling the leaves.’
      • ‘The next morning I woke to sun shining on my face and a soft breeze ruffling the curtains.’
      • ‘A cool night breeze ruffled the curtains of the window and swept in a fragrance of spicy earth.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As when a breeze ruffles the surface of a reflecting pool, ripples ran rapidly across her vision, momentarily distorting the figures.’
      • ‘Snorkel early in the day, before Hawaii's trade winds ruffle the surface and stir up sand in the water, which reduces visibility.’
      • ‘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 air was warm and a slight breeze ruffled the trees.’
      • ‘Someone had opened a window and the cool morning breeze drifted in and ruffled the white hospital curtains.’
      • ‘It was an exquisite fall day, drenched in sunlight with a soft breeze ruffling the brightly colored leaves.’
      • ‘A breeze ruffled the grass, and raised waves through the pasture.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Now that there was a light breeze ruffling through the flags the castle seemed more intimidating now.’
      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’
      • ‘Perhaps that's the problem; her singing is almost always sunny - violent emotions don't ruffle her composure for long.’
      • ‘Great champions are often ruffled, sometimes shaken, but never spooked.’
      • ‘She was ruffled by the King's unchanging expression and tone of voice.’
      • ‘It didn't ruffle him in the slightest; if anything, his smile broadened.’
      • ‘Yet she has never allowed petty jealousies to ruffle her.’
      • ‘The officials are keenly aware they risk ruffling customers by straying outside the boundaries of its conservative styling.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was nice to know that something could ruffle the pompous guard.’
      • ‘Aaron had been so cool and composed a moment ago, as if nothing in the world could ruffle him.’
      • ‘I was ruffled and quickly reacted by sending up the windows.’
      • ‘I was briefly ruffled, because few things are held as closely and protectively as one's musical preferences.’
      • ‘Nothing seemed to ruffle him and, what he may have lacked in attentiveness, he made up in luck.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Normally nothing ruffled his composure, and yet there he was, blushing like a callow youth at the sight of her ankle.’
      • ‘Instead of looking at the big picture, we became unduly ruffled by near-term issues.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was easily ruffled, which led to tension headaches and high blood pressure.’
      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’
    • ‘Rab offers Johnny his outgrown linen ruffled shirt and a corduroy jacket.’
    • ‘He wore one of those ruffled shirts that Alora associated with artists in eighteenth-century France.’
    • ‘The sleeves of the shirt were, thanks to Alicia, immaculately black, the frills of the cuffs ruffled lightly.’
    • ‘He was lightly muscled and wore a grey ruffled, button down shirt, with the first two buttons undone.’
    • ‘I was wearing a $700 jean skirt and complete faded jacket with a pink ruffled shirt.’
    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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Edith wore a sweet pink gingham dress with a white ruffle at the hem and a white apron.’
    • ‘Look out for soft ruffles, velvet ribbons and frills.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's almost a throw-back to the 19th Century of ruffles and lace.’
    • ‘She wore a flowing pale yellow skirt with ruffles and a silken blouse with puffed sleeves.’
    • ‘Scalloped edges, lace and ruffles infuse the clothes with motion and make for an exciting silhouette.’
    • ‘His shirt had a few ruffles on it and his pants were short.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Corsages, ruffles, patches, rosettes, ribbons, buttons, rivets and safety pins are all very popular with fashion folk this summer.’
    • ‘He wore pitch-black pants and a black shirt with understated ruffles at the neck and sleeves.’
    • ‘The arms stopped at the elbow in a double ruffle edged with lace and the whole outfit was set off with a matching choker.’
    • ‘Do not wear blouses with fancy details and ruffles.’
    • ‘You're a prime candidate for divided skirts, tiered skirts and those with hemline ruffles.’
    • ‘My very favorite skirt has a subtle ruffle along the hem, it's not ultra-girly but it gives it a little something extra.’
    • ‘While I will put my boys in girls' clothes, I do have standards: I avoid ribbons, lace, frilly ruffles, little pink flowers, and sequins.’
    • ‘Once it had been clean and beautiful, with ruffles and lace.’
    • ‘She appeared in a white suit jacket with an apricot blouse and a prim ruffle down the front.’
    • ‘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.’
    frill, flounce, ruff, ruche, jabot, furbelow
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  • 2A vibrating drumbeat.

    • ‘The ruffle on drums and the flourish on bugles are sounded together, up to four times depending on the prominence of the deceased.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrases

  • ruffle someone's feathers

    • Cause someone to become annoyed or upset.

      ‘tampering with the traditional approach would ruffle a few feathers’
      • ‘It's been a difficult week for the committee that devised the rules, but not one that ruffled their feathers unduly.’
      • ‘Was Hannity trying to ruffle Jensen's feathers, knock him off balance in order to get him to react in anger?’
      • ‘I would appear to have ruffled Mr Foxcroft's feathers in my letter of May 20.’
      • ‘It's this snobbish attitude toward work place interaction that ruffles my feathers.’
      • ‘We seem to have at last ruffled their feathers and could be a force to be reckoned with.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They think this high profile meeting in London will ruffle his feathers.’
      • ‘I felt that I'd ruffled his feathers up enough for the day, or at the very least a few hours.’
      • ‘All of this speculation has clearly ruffled Parker's feathers a little.’
      • ‘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.

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

Origin

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

Pronunciation

ruffle

/ˈrəfəl//ˈrəfəl/