A ruffian is a bully, someone who is violent toward others. Maybe they had a bad childhood, or perhaps they like the sound of people in pain. No matter where they come from, ruffians are best avoided.

Soccer fans have a reputation for being ruffians. Sure, some are sensitive poetry-reading types, but the ones that get the most attention scream obscenities, break things, and fight each other. Ruffian comes from a Germanic word that literally translates as “scabbiness,” and perhaps ruffians are covered in scabs from all the fights they start. Sometimes a ruffian is a person involved in crime, however, the word is always used to describe someone who’s a cruel, violent jerk.

Definitions of ruffian
  1. noun
    a cruel and brutal fellow
    synonyms: bully, hooligan, roughneck, rowdy, tough, yob, yobbo, yobo
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    a swaggering tough; usually one acting as an agent of a political faction
    muscle, muscleman
    a bully employed as a thug or bodyguard
    a young person who belongs to a British or American group that shave their heads and gather at rock concerts or engage in white supremacist demonstrations
    plug-ugly, tough guy
    someone who bullies weaker people
    Ted, Teddy boy
    a tough youth of 1950's and 1960's wearing Edwardian style clothes
    type of:
    aggressor, assailant, assaulter, attacker
    someone who attacks
Word Family