Green’s Dictionary of Slang

scruff n.

[dial. scruff, refuse, thus human refuse in dial. use since mid-19C; ult. SE scurf]

1. an unkempt, messy person; also a term of abuse.

[Ire]B. Behan Scarperer (1966) 16: Shut your ignorant mouth, yous perishing scruff.
[UK]Willans & Searle Complete Molesworth (1985) 377: Scram, scruff! Or I will do you!
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 154: He was in his Oxford Street scruff gear.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 146: I pushed my way through a crowd of scruffs.
[UK](con. 1950s) J. Byrne Slab Boys [film script] 123: Anyhow, it’s a lot better than hangin’ aboot wi’ scruff!
[Scot]I. Welsh Glue 45: Thi’ll be like gold dust for they fuckin scruffs.
[UK]R. Milward Apples (2023) 206: Fairhurst done twelve [MDMA pills] in one night, fucking scruff.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 60: The pallid, haggard-looking scruff is none other than former LFC idol Georgie bloody Smallwood.

2. pornographic literature.

[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 98 Oct. 25: scruff n. Pornography; muck. Also scruff-mag, scruffy literature. ‘Look what I’ve got,’ said William breathlessly as he emptied the contents of his jumper at the Outlaws’ feet. ‘It’s a load of scruff. Jumble found it under a hedge.’ (from ‘William’s Milk Race’, by Richmal Crompton).

In compounds

scruff-bag (n.) [-bag sfx]

1. a down-and-out.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1028/1: since ca. 1930.

2. a messy, unkempt person (or animal, see cit. 1987).

S. Townsend Bazaar and Rummage 4: You’re usually such a scruff-bag. Of course, I know it’s de rigueur to dress à la bohemian at college but . . .
[Ire](con. 1920s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 154: She was usually a very nervous bitch and my pugnacious little heart used to rage at the sight of her running before some little scruff-bag of a terrier, half her size.
[UK]Guardian 24 Sept. 🌐 Even in his pinstripe suit, he is still a scruffbag. That’s always been part of his appeal.
[UK]R. Milward Ten Storey Love Song 124: He feels a bit of a scruffbag when he turns up to the gallery.

3. attrib. use of sense 2.

[UK]Guardian 24 Aug. 🌐 His campaign for Birds Eye featured two scruffbag Yorkshire brothers who liked to make pictures out of their food.