Middle class trying to rough up (British English)

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winds2clouds

Member
Vietnamese
Hello everyone,
I'm reading an introduction of a story which happened in southeast London before 2000s, so the language is British English. I don't know the meaning of "rough up" in it.

Here's the introduction of characters:
Jamie, nearly sixteen, a plain looking lad.
Leah, Jamie's neighbour, sixteen. Attractive in a rough way.
Sandra, Jamie's mother, thirty-five.
Ste, another neighbour, also sixteen. Attractive in a scally way.
Tony, Sandra's young man, twenty-seven. Middle class trying to rough up.

The meaning of "rough up" I've read in a dictionary is "to hurt someone, usually to frighten or threaten them", and that is the only definition of it I've found, but it seems that it's not what it means in this context.
So what does "rough up" mean here?
I'd appreciate your help.
Thank you.
 
  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    You're sure it isn't 'rough it' (to live uncomfortably) or 'rough it out'?
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I understand it as saying that Tony is from the middle class, so he is likely a soft, pampered kid trying to get tough and strong, become "rough", i.e. to rough up. Just a theory.
     
    Last edited:

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't recall having heard the expression used like this, but it sounds to me that Tony is trying to pretend that he is not middle class, that he is trying to speak and act "rough", as if he were working class. This wanting to sound working class, or to pretend you are working class, is quite common in Britain and has been for a long time. Working class people are considered to be more "authentic".
     

    winds2clouds

    Member
    Vietnamese
    I don't recall having heard the expression used like this, but it sounds to me that Tony is trying to pretend that he is not middle class, that he is trying to speak and act "rough", as if he were working class. This wanting to sound working class, or to pretend you are working class, is quite common in Britain and has been for a long time. Working class people are considered to be more "authentic".
    This is interesting. Thank you very much.
     
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