ruff , ruffle someone's hair

  • guillaumedemanzac

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England Home Counties
    Ruffing or ruffling someone's hair is a very patronising gesture done by an older person - not usually liked or appreciated by the younger participant in this process.
     

    Downbow

    Senior Member
    English - USA/Canada
    I would mostly likely use the verb "muss" instead (and Canadian Oxford Dictionary actually concurs!). I limit "ruffling" to feathers, and "ruffs" to starched pleated collars worn by choirboys.
    Itsi's suggestion ébouriffer is surely correct, though.
     
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    broglet

    Senior Member
    English - England
    [...]
    I have never heard of 'ruffing' except in the context of winning a trick at bridge by playing a trump.
     
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    guillaumedemanzac

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England Home Counties
    Dated? What would be a more modern way to say this, guillaume? (Personally I don't find it dated.)

    I see the gesture as often intended with affection--but that's just one more perspective...
    [...]
    More modern would be running your fingers through his/her hair in an affectionate way - but that could still be misinterpreted!
     
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    guillaumedemanzac

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England Home Counties
    Also possible are to rough up = to mess up, to ruffle up someone's hair (or feathers), to muss up someone's hair, to ruff up someone's hair (usually negative).
     
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