- 1Disorder or disarrange (someone’s hair), typically by running one’s hands through it: he ruffled her hair affectionatelyMore example sentences
- He grinned contentedly as he ruffled my already tangled hair.
- In the end, Lady Eleanor settled for a tender, parting kiss on each boy's forehead, affectionately ruffling his hair as she did so.
- There was a static snap as the television turned on and Reid walked back, ruffling my hair affectionately as he swept past me and into the next room.
- 1.1(Of a bird) erect (its feathers) in anger or display: they warbled incessantly, their throat feathers ruffledMore example sentences
- It would just sit there, ruffle its clipped wing feathers and continue its neurotic seed shovelling and beak swinging.
- Just then, a bird beside him ruffled its wings and flew away.
- Fortunately, the bird only ruffled a few of its feathers.
- 1.2Disturb the smoothness or tranquillity of: the evening breeze ruffled the surface of the pond in the yardMore example sentences
- As when a breeze ruffles the surface of a reflecting pool, ripples ran rapidly across her vision, momentarily distorting the figures.
- A strong breeze ruffles the surface of the lake.
- A light onshore breeze ruffled the surface of the bay, a few feet away I watched a turkey buzzard or vulture fly by.
- 1.3Disconcert or upset the composure of (someone): Lancaster had been ruffled by her questionsMore example sentences
- I was ruffled and quickly reacted by sending up the windows.
- I was briefly ruffled, because few things are held as closely and protectively as one's musical preferences.
- Yet she has never allowed petty jealousies to ruffle her.
- 2 (usually as adjective ruffled) Ornament with or gather into a frill: a blouse with a high ruffled neckMore example sentences
- The sleeves of the shirt were, thanks to Alicia, immaculately black, the frills of the cuffs ruffled lightly.
- He was lightly muscled and wore a grey ruffled, button down shirt, with the first two buttons undone.
- He wore one of those ruffled shirts that Alora associated with artists in eighteenth-century France.
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- 1An ornamental gathered or goffered frill of lace or other cloth on a garment, especially around the wrist or neck.More example sentences
- The garment is often trimmed with lace, ruffles, bows and ribbons, optionally with spaghetti straps.
- Scalloped edges, lace and ruffles infuse the clothes with motion and make for an exciting silhouette.
- He wore pitch-black pants and a black shirt with understated ruffles at the neck and sleeves.
- 2A vibrating drum beat.More example sentences
- The ruffle on drums and the flourish on bugles are sounded together, up to four times depending on the prominence of the deceased.
- They started with the sounding of a bugle, leading in to a drum ruffle from the drum corps, and then swinging into their rock group performance.
ruffle someone's feathers
- Cause someone to become annoyed or upset: his sudden rise ruffled the feathers of the old guard tampering with the traditional approach would ruffle a few feathersMore example sentences
- Jess bumped a side table and sent it crashing to the dusty floor with a clang that shook my eardrums, ruffled my feathers with the irritating vibration, and made every one of us jump.
- It's this snobbish attitude toward work place interaction that ruffles my feathers.
- It's been a difficult week for the committee that devised the rules, but not one that ruffled their feathers unduly.
smooth someone's ruffled feathers
- Make someone less angry or irritated by using soothing words: twenty minutes later, after a diplomatic phone call, she had succeeded in smoothing Henri’s ruffled feathersMore example sentences
- I muttered darkly, not liking the fact that he so easily smoothed my ruffled feathers.
- He shook his head and laughed in merriment as if to smooth Big Freddie's ruffled feathers.
- A little lie would indubitably make things all better, smooth Jake's ruffled feathers, and make everything in my life shiny again.
Middle English (as a verb): of unknown origin. Current noun senses date from the late 17th century.