Ruff - ruffe

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Ruff (and more trivially ruffe) form one of the sets of homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these. They are homophonous with rough, as adjective, noun and verb. See rough - ruff for an article on those meanings.

  • OED (2011) lists eleven nouns and five verbs written as ruff. Of the nouns, five are obsolete, meaning 'a candle wick'; 'vainglory' or pride', later 'rage'; 'a large fish' (not identifiable); 'a blockhead'; and an abbreviated reference to the horse-racing journal Ruff's Guide to the Turf (1842 et seq.). Another fish is listed: "The tommy rough or Australian herring, Arripis georgianus" (OED, 2011)
    • In the context of card games, to ruff is 'to play a card from a trump suit in a trick of another suit'; thus 'a ruff' is such a play.
    • In the playing of drums, particularly military side-drums, a ruff is a "a light militaristic roll" (OED, 2011).
      • This meaning of ruff is also used (rarely, nowadays) for 'drumming the feet', as an expression of applause - or of disapprobation
    • In relation with the decorative ornamentation of clothes, chiefly at the neck: originally it was used for "A ruffle or frill around the sleeve of a garment at the wrist" (OED, 2011), but by the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), the ruff - now a highly fashionable item - was a detachable collar of fine cambric or lace, starched and set into elaborate folds with the aid of a gophering iron. A ruff of this sort is part of the formal dress of the Lutheran churches of northern Europe and Scandinavia, especially the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark. This sense of an ornamental collar, ruff may be transferred to describe figuratively other forms of circles of projecting items, in wood-carving, botany and anatomy.
      • The common English name of a bird, the common Eurasian sandpiper Philomachus pugnax (or Calidris pugnax, tringa pugnaxs), is the ruff. Properly this should be applied only to the cock or male, whose breeding plumage includes a formation round the neck of a tuft of feathers very like the ruff collar. The species was originally called the ree; the hen, who has no such neck plumage as the male, is known as the reeve.
    • Ruff, ruff is a common rendition of a dog's barking for young children, like other reduplicated forms 'wuff, wuff', 'woof, woof' and - perhaps currently the most used - 'bow wow'.
  • The ruffe, fully the Eurasian ruffe, is a freshwater fish, Gymnocephalus cernua, also known as the pope. The sea bream (various species of marine fish in the Sparidae family) used to be called the sea ruffe.