adj. gruff·er, gruff·est
1. Brusque or stern in manner or appearance: a gruff reply.
2. Hoarse; harsh: a gruff voice.
[Dutch grof, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German.]
Synonyms: gruff, brusque, blunt2, curt
These adjectives mean abrupt and sometimes discourteous in manner or speech. Gruff implies roughness or surliness but does not necessarily suggest rudeness: a decent fellow once you get past the gruff manner. Brusque emphasizes rude abruptness: dismissed us with a brusque wave of the hand. Blunt stresses utter frankness and usually a disconcerting directness: was blunt in her disapproval of the idea. Curt denotes usually rude briefness and abruptness of speech: a curt, two-line letter of rejection.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.