The opposite of smooth is "rough." This word describes a surface that is unlevel or has bumps or sharp points that can scratch something. Here are some examples of rough surfaces:

  • You can find many rough, gravel roads if you drive out of the city and into the country.
  • The surface of a rock is usually rough.
  • The skin of an elephant feels rough.
  • After wood is cut with a saw, the surface area where the cut was made is usually rough.
  • You can smooth out a rough surface with sandpaper.

sandpaper He’s holding a piece of sandpaper.

  • If I don’t shave for more than two days, my face looks rough from the stubble of growing whiskers.

The word "rough" also describes an experience. It’s similar to the word "difficult." It’s also similar to the word "tough."

  • Shawn had a rough week. He needs to relax.
  • This is kind of a rough neighborhood. You have to be careful where you go.
  • Mr. Edwards is rough on his students. He makes them work very hard.
  • Army boot camp is going to be rough. Tom isn’t sure if he’s ready for the training.

You may also use "rough" as a verb:

  • Bruce got a little roughed up by the police. (rough up = to hit, punch, kick, etc.)
  • The old man’s face was roughened by weeks of exposure to extreme cold.

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This page was first published on May 12, 2012. It was updated on April 29, 2015.