General English

  • adjective not finished, or with no details

General Science

Cars & Driving

  • adjective if an engine sounds rough it is running unevenly, probably caused by misfiring or worn crankshaft bearings


  • noun the outline plan of an illustration for an advertisement


  • noun a rough sketch of artwork


  • adjective unpleasant, distasteful, disgusting. The standard term became an all-purpose pejorative in working-class speech and then a vogue word among adolescents and then younger schoolchildren from the mid-1990s.
  • adjective excellent. The process whereby negative becomes positive operated particularly rapidly in the case of rough, which by the late 1990s was being used appreciatively.


  • used to describe a wine that has a harsh texture or flavour due to an excess of tannin or acid. In some wines this character can dissipate with ageing.

Origin & History of “rough”

Rough goes back to a prehistoric west Germanic *rūkhwaz, which also produced German rauh and Dutch ruw. Despite the similarity of form and sense, ruffian is not related, and there is no evidence that ruffle is either.