1. A muslin or linen collar plaited, crimped, or fluted, worn formerly by both sexes, now only by women and children. Here to-morrow with his best ruff on. (Shak) His gravity is much lessened since the late proclamation came out against ruffs; . . . They were come to that height of excess herein, that twenty shillings were used to be paid for starching of a ruff. (Howell)
3. An exhibition of pride or haughtiness. How many princes . . . In the ruff of all their glory, have been taken down from the head of a conquering army to the wheel of the victor's chariot! (L'Estrange)
8. (Science: zoology) A limicoline bird of Europe and asia (Pavoncella, or Philommachus, pugnax) allied to the sandpipers. The males during the breeding season have a large ruff of erectile feathers, variable in their colours, on the neck, and yellowish naked tubercles on the face. They are polygamous, and are noted for their pugnacity in the breeding season. The female is called reeve, or rheeve. A variety of the domestic pigeon, having a ruff of its neck.
Origin: Of uncertain origin: cf. Icel. Rfinn rough, uncombed, Pr. Ruf rude, rough, Sp. Rufo frizzed, crisp, curled, G. Raufen to pluck, fight, rupfen to pluck, pull, E. Rough. Cf. Ruffle to wrinkle.