A tussle is a rowdy fight. If the rambunctious kids you're babysitting get into a tussle, you may have to separate them for a while and calm them down.

Though a tussle is often a physical fight, it's rarely a serious one. Two wrestling dogs, a couple of scuffling teenagers — these are examples of tussles. The word tussle is Scottish, a variant of touselen, which is related to tousle, or "dishevel or muss," which you might do to a little kid's hair. The root of both is the Old English tousen, "handle or push about roughly."

Definitions of tussle

n disorderly fighting

dogfight, hassle, rough-and-tumble, scuffle
Type of:
combat, fight, fighting, scrap
the act of fighting; any contest or struggle

v fight or struggle in a confused way at close quarters

Type of:
contend, fight, struggle
be engaged in a fight; carry on a fight

v make messy or untidy

Type of:
destroy the arrangement or order of

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.