Ruff vs rough

A ruff is a band of fur or feathers that is differently colored or longer than the surrounding fur or feathers, or a starched, frilled collar worn during Elizabethan times. Ruff is derived from the word ruffle, which is derived from the Old Norse word hrufla, meaning to scratch and the Low German word ruffelen, meaning to wrinkle or curl. Related words are ruffed and rufflike. When describing the vocalization of a dog, the correct spelling is ruff.

Rough means not smooth, not level, behaving in a boisterous, wild or unsophisticated manner. Rough also refers to something makeshift, plain, unrefined, coarse or stormy. Rough comes from the Old English word ruh, which means rough, coarse, shaggy, untrimmed.


Drab, mottled brown in the case of the female birds; brightly tufted heads, orange faces, black chests, and a large ruff of ornamental feathers in the case of most males. (The Guardian)

And it is possible to see the same eye at work in a 1968 couture Yves Saint Laurent salmon jumpsuit with a cock feather ruff at the neck, and a black velvet Jacqueline de Ribes column with white spotted black feathers bristling around the throat from 1986. (The New York Times)

It looked like she had an Elizabethan ruff around her neck. (The Daily Mail)

Will Smith took a brief hiatus from acting a few years ago when he went through a rough patch in his career and personal life. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Yes, Obamacare has hit a few rough patches lately. (The Kansas City Star)

Cut from an exceptional rough of over 770 carats, the historic Victory Diamond was the largest and most significant diamond discovered in the 1940’s from the Woyie River in eastern Sierra Leone. (Christie’s)