Definition of tussle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtəsəl/


A vigorous struggle or scuffle, typically in order to obtain or achieve something: there was a tussle for the ball
More example sentences
  • The Italian charging process is not the same as in Britain and it is unclear whether the move would lead to further legal tussles and delays to British attempts to extradite him.
  • Already, legal tussles have overshadowed the prospects of a better future for this prestigious venture taken up by the Society.
  • Real connoisseurs of Cold War sporting tussles treasure the memory of the USSR beating the USA in the 1972 basketball final.
scuffle, fight, struggle, skirmish, brawl, scrum, rough-and-tumble, free-for-all, fracas, fray, rumpus, melee
informal spat, scrap, roughhouse, tug-of-war


[no object]
Engage in a vigorous struggle or scuffle: the demonstrators tussled with police
More example sentences
  • They tussled on the floor, an oddly muted fight as they were both trying to shield the book from damage.
  • A Tullow woman tussled violently with her attackers as they attempted to steal her handbag before they dragged her along the road until she smacked her head off a lamp-post.
  • The only thing that surprised me bearing in mind the previous night's tales was that I couldn't hear the wildlife crashing around in the trees as they tussled for a vantage point from which to ambush me.
informal scrap, roughhouse


Late Middle English (as a verb, originally Scots and northern English): perhaps a diminutive of dialect touse 'handle roughly' (see tousle).

  • hassle from [late 19th century]:

    This was originally a dialect word in the sense ‘hack or saw at’. The origin is unknown but it may be a blend of haggle (LME from an Old Norse word for ‘hack, mangle’) and tussle (LME, probably the same word as tousle, of Germanic origin).

Words that rhyme with tussle

bustle, muscle, mussel, Russell, rustle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tus·sle

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