• IPA: /ˈɹʌfi.ən/

ruffian (plural ruffians)

  1. A scoundrel, rascal, or unprincipled, deceitful, brutal and unreliable person.
    Synonyms: rogue, scamp, Thesaurus:troublemaker
    • 1591, William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Sixt, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act V, scene i], page 145 ↗, column 1:
      What wilt thou on thy death-bed play the Ruffian?
    • 1894, George du Maurier, “Part Fifth: Little Billee: An Interlude”, in Trilby: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, OCLC 174215199 ↗, page 259 ↗:
      It was at Count Siloszech's. He'd heard her sing in the streets, with a tall, black-bearded ruffian, who accompanied her on a guitar, and a little fiddling gypsy fellow. She was a handsome woman, with hair down to her knees, but stupid as an owl.
  2. (obsolete) A pimp; a pander.
    Synonyms: Thesaurus:pimp
  3. (obsolete) A lover; a paramour.
    • He [her husband] is no sooner abroad than she is instantly at home, revelling with her ruffians.
Translations Verb

ruffian (ruffians, present participle ruffianing; past and past participle ruffianed)

  1. To play the ruffian; to rage; to raise tumult.
    • 1603, Shakespeare, Othello, Act II, Scene I
      Methinks the wind does speak aloud at land; A fuller blast ne'er shook our battlements. If it hath ruffianed so upon the sea.


  1. Brutal; cruel; savagely boisterous; murderous.
    ruffian rage

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