stuff

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Late Middle English stuffen (to equip, furnish), from Old French estoffer ("to provide what is necessary, equip, stuff"; > French étoffer and étouffer), from Frankish *stopfōn, *stoppōn (to cram, plug, stuff), from Proto-Germanic *stuppōną (to clog up, block, fill). Cognate with Old High German stoffōn, stopfōn (to plug, stuff), Old English stoppian (to stop up, close) and Albanian shtyp (to press, squeeze, stuff). More at stop.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

stuff (usually uncountable, plural stuffs)

  1. Miscellaneous items; things; (with possessive) personal effects.
    What is all that stuff on your bedroom floor?
    He didn't want his pockets to bulge so he was walking around with all his stuff in his hands.
  2. The tangible substance that goes into the makeup of a physical object.
    • Sir John Davies (c.1569-1626)
      The workman on his stuff his skill doth show, / And yet the stuff gives not the man his skill.
  3. A material for making clothing; any woven textile, but especially a woollen fabric.
    • 1992, Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety, Harper Perennial 2007, p. 147:
      She was going out to buy some lengths of good woollen stuff for Louise's winter dresses.
  4. Abstract substance or character.
  5. (informal) Used as placeholder, usually for material of unknown type or name.
    Can I have some of that stuff on my ice-cream sundae?
    • 1935, George Goodchild, chapter 3, Death on the Centre Court:
      It had been his intention to go to Wimbledon, but as he himself said: “Why be blooming well frizzled when you can hear all the results over the wireless. [] You stand by, Janet, and wake me up if they do any of that running commentary stuff.”
    • 2013 August 3, “Yesterday’s fuel”, The Economist, volume 408, number 8847: 
      The dawn of the oil age was fairly recent. Although the stuff was used to waterproof boats in the Middle East 6,000 years ago, extracting it in earnest began only in 1859 after an oil strike in Pennsylvania. The first barrels of crude fetched $18 (around $450 at today’s prices).
  6. (slang, informal) Substitution for trivial details.
    I had to do some stuff.
  7. (slang) Narcotic drugs, especially heroin.
    • 1947, William Burroughs, letter, 11 Mar 1947:
      For some idiotic reason the bureaucrats are more opposed to tea than to stuff.
  8. (obsolete, uncountable) Furniture; goods; domestic vessels or utensils.
    • Sir John Hayward (c.1564-1627)
      He took away locks, and gave away the king's stuff.
  9. (obsolete) A medicine or mixture; a potion.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  10. (obsolete) Refuse or worthless matter; hence, also, foolish or irrational language; nonsense; trash.
    • John Dryden (1631-1700)
      Anger would indite / Such woeful stuff as I or Shadwell write.
  11. (nautical) A melted mass of turpentine, tallow, etc., with which the masts, sides, and bottom of a ship are smeared for lubrication.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ham. Nav. Encyc to this entry?)
  12. Paper stock ground ready for use. When partly ground, it is called half stuff.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Knight to this entry?)

Usage notes[edit]

  • The textile sense is increasingly specialized and sounds dated in everyday contexts.

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Verb[edit]

stuff (third-person singular simple present stuffs, present participle stuffing, simple past and past participle stuffed)

  1. (transitive) To fill by crowding something into; to cram with something; to load to excess.
    She stuffed the turkey for Thanksgiving using her secret stuffing recipe.
    • Dryden
      Lest the gods, for sin, / Should with a swelling dropsy stuff thy skin.
    • 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
      The Rabbit could not claim to be a model of anything, for he didn’t know that real rabbits existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like himself, and he understood that sawdust was quite out-of-date and should never be mentioned in modern circles.
  2. (transitive) To fill a space with (something) in a compressed manner.
    He stuffed his clothes into the closet and shut the door.
    • Francis Bacon
      Put roses into a glass with a narrow mouth, stuffing them close together [] and they retain smell and colour.
  3. (transitive, used in the passive) To sate.
    I’m stuffed after having eaten all that turkey, mashed potatoes and delicious stuffing.
  4. (transitive, UK, Australia, New Zealand) To be broken.
  5. (transitive, vulgar, UK, Australia, New Zealand) To sexually penetrate.
  6. (transitive) To be cut off in a race by having one's projected and committed racing line (trajectory) disturbed by an abrupt manoeuvre by a competitor.
    I got stuffed by that guy on the supermoto going into that turn, almost causing us to crash.
  7. To preserve a dead bird or animal by filling its skin.
  8. (transitive) To obstruct, as any of the organs; to affect with some obstruction in the organs of sense or respiration.
    • Shakespeare
      I'm stuffed, cousin; I cannot smell.
  9. (transitive) To form or fashion by packing with the necessary material.
    • Jonathan Swift
      An Eastern king put a judge to death for an iniquitous sentence, and ordered his hide to be stuffed into a cushion, and placed upon the tribunal.
  10. (transitive, dated) To crowd with facts; to cram the mind of; sometimes, to crowd or fill with false or idle tales or fancies.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


Derived terms[edit]

Anagrams[edit]