Middle English rough (late 14c.), also rouhe, rouwe, roghe, rugh, etc., from Old English ruh, rug- "not smooth to the touch, coarse (of cloth); hairy, shaggy;" of hides, "undressed, untrimmed;" of ground, "uncultivated." This is from West Germanic *rukhwaz "shaggy, hairy, rough" (source also of Middle Dutch ruuch, Dutch ruig, Old High German ruher, German rauh), from Proto-Germanic *rukhaz, which is perhaps related to the source of Sanskrit ruksah "rough;" Latin ruere "to rush, fall violently, collapse," ruina "a collapse;" Lithuanian raukas "wrinkle," rukti "to shrink."
The original -gh- sound was guttural, as in Scottish loch. The form row was a regular variant from early 16c. and lingered in dialects. Of actions, "characterized by harshness or disparity," c. 1300; of land, terrain, late 15c. as "rugged, hard to traverse." Of stormy weather from mid-14c.; by late 14c. of turbulent seas, rude language, discordant sounds.
From mid-14c. as "crudely made;" c. 1600 as "rudely sufficient, not smooth or formed by art." Rough stone "undressed stone mortared together" is from mid-15c. Of writing or literary style, "lacking refinement, unpolished," 1530s. The sense of "approximate" is recorded from c. 1600.
Rough draft (or draught) is from 1690s. Rough-and-ready "rude and disorderly" is by 1832, from an earlier noun (1810), originally military; rough-and-tumble "not elaborately or carefully ordered" is from a style of free-fighting characterized by indiscriminate blows and falls (1810). Rough music "din produced by banging pots, pans, etc. for the purpose of annoying or punishing a neighbor" is by 1708. Rough-snout (c. 1300) was an old term for "a bearded face."
late 15c., "to raise a nap on cloth," from rough (adj.). From 1763 in the general sense of "give a rough condition or appearance to, scrape or rub up the surface of." Related: Roughed; roughing. The phrase rough it "put up with coarse or casual conditions, submit to hardships" (1768) is nautical:
To lie rough; to lie all night in one's clothes: called also roughing it. Likewise to sleep on the bare deck of a ship, when the person is commonly advised to chuse the softest plank. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1788]
To rough out "shape or plan approximately" is by 1770. To rough up "make rough" is from 1763. Rough (v.) in the sense of "deal roughly with" is by 1845, hence to rough (someone) up "beat up, jostle violently" is from 1868. The U.S. football penalty roughing originally was a term from boxing (1866).
c. 1200, "broken ground, a rough surface," from rough (adj.). From 1640s as "the disagreeable side of anything." The meaning "a rowdy" is attested by 1837, but Century Dictionary calls this perhaps rather an abbreviation of ruffian conformed in spelling to rough. The specific sense in golf, in reference to the ground at the edge of the greens, is by 1901.
Phrase in the rough "in an unfinished or unprocessed condition" (of timber, etc.) is from 1620s, in rough diamond "diamond in its natural state," which was used figuratively, of persons, by 1700, hence diamond in the rough (by 1874 of persons, in the figurative sense "one whose good character is somewhat masked by rough manners and want of education or style").
updated on October 09, 2021