A little rough around the edges [a person]

  • mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Thanks mgarizona!
    The message I received was this:

    "well...you didn't look all that well last week...little rough around
    the edges..."

    Carlos
    It's an odd use of the phrase. Perhaps they meant 'unkempt' if you were looking sloppy and are normally well put-together. Or perhaps they meant something like "the worse for wear," if you had been through a grueling period since they'd seen you last.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    "Rough guy" would mean, possibly, a tough man or one who is not too gentle.

    There's another thread on "rough around the edges":

    <<Thanks for the link - threads now merged>>
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    If he is "serious" as well as "rough around the edges," it might mean that he doesn't care for social niceties. He may be focused on other things and may behave gruffly, impolitely, or impolitically.
     

    tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Thank you. So could it mean he has rough behaviour? That his behaviour is not entirely proper?
    Yes, that is what it means. I think the phrase comes from making pottery. If you are a good potter, everything is perfect. If you are just learning you could make a very nice pot that has some rough pieces or be rough around the finishing edge. Not perfect, but quite acceptable.
     

    L'Homme Inconnu

    Senior Member
    English English
    It could do, yes. I think it can also mean that something is not finished perfectly. For example:
    "I've put together this cabinet; it's a little rough around the edges, though."

    Here it means that it has been roughly assembled, and is not a perfect job or finished to a high standard.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes it is informal and colloquial.
    If you are talking to someone you don't know well or maybe to your boss or teacher for example you would not use rough around the edges in the sense of looking ill. Using it to comment on their general appearance would of course be out of the question since you wouldn't not be commenting on the appearance in any sort of language.
    When someone says they 'feel rough' they mean they feel unwell; if they say they feel rough around the edges they might mean unwell or they might mean they have had a rough time, some bad experience maybe, and feel upset.

    Friend: Gosh, you look a bit rough round the edges! Are you OK?
    HG: Yes I'm fine really, just exhausted. I had a really bad night then I overslept and nearly missed the train. Where's the coffee?

    :)
    Hermione
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Seems as though "rough round the edges," in the sense 'unwell,' is more of a Britishism as it seems more familiar to British responders. (Makes me think of someone looking "green about the gills.")

    On the other hand in the "serious guy" example I side with Bibliolept in posting 12. While that person might seem to lack couth, his heart would still seem to be in the right place.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    In AE,I think "rough around the edges" doesn't usually mean looking ill. It doesn't refer to someone who is a rough person, but to someone who is not necessarily a very refined person or who is sometimes awkward in social settings or occasionally doesn't say quite the right thing or something like that.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I've heard "you look a little rough around the edges" to mean unwell or even suffering from a hangover. "You're a little rough around the edges" would have the "unrefined" meaning for me but "You look..." changes the meaning for me.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I agree. Actually the original question was very slightly ambiguous in this regard. Saying you look a little rough around the edges would imply you don't quite look like your usual self.
     

    Tansey69

    New Member
    American English
    In AE,I think "rough around the edges" doesn't usually mean looking ill. It doesn't refer to someone who is a rough person, but to someone who is not necessarily a very refined person or who is sometimes awkward in social settings or occasionally doesn't say quite the right thing or something like that.
    I don't think being 'rough around the edges' has anything do with social awkwardness, because social awkwardness implies that a person gets nervous and/or isn't sure how to act in social situations.

    A better description would be a person who isn't interested in conforming or going through the motions in social situations. Someone who couldn't care less what others think, which may by default offend people, but that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with social awkwardness.
     

    Hain Nodi

    New Member
    Malay
    So is it a good thing or not when someone described me as "rough around the edges, but have some potential."?
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I don't think being 'rough around the edges' has anything do with social awkwardness, because social awkwardness implies that a person gets nervous and/or isn't sure how to act in social situations.

    A better description would be a person who isn't interested in conforming or going through the motions in social situations. Someone who couldn't care less what others think, which may by default offend people, but that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with social awkwardness.
    In general, it describes someone who is not refined and may not act quite correctly. There could be a lot of reasons for this - maybe it has to do with their background or their outlook or their personality. Social awkwardness is just one possibility - they aren't sure how to act or don't know how to act. Or they may not want to conform. Or they have been brought up differently.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    So is it a good thing or not when someone described me as "rough around the edges, but have some potential."?
    It's somewhat positive because you have potential, but a little negative, because it indicates they think you need some more experience or training somehow. It depends on the context.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top