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Old English pyffian



puff ‎(countable and uncountable, plural puffs)

  1. (countable) A sharp exhalation of a small amount of breath through the mouth.
  2. (uncountable) The ability to breathe easily while exerting oneself.
    out of puff
  3. (countable) A small quantity of gas or smoke in the air.
    puff of smoke
    • Flatman
      to every puff of wind a slave
  4. (informal, countable) An act of inhaling smoke from a cigarette, cigar or pipe.
  5. (countable) A flamboyant or alluring statement about an object's quality.
  6. (dated, slang) A puffer, one who is employed by the owner or seller of goods sold at auction to bid up the price; an act or scam of that type.
    • 1842, "A Paper on Puffing", in Ainsworth's Magazine
      Is nothing to be said in praise of the "Emporiums" and "Repositories" and "Divans," which formerly were mere insignificant tailors', toymen's, and tobacconists' shops? Is the transition from the barber's pole to the revolving bust of the perruquier, nothing? — the leap from the bare counter-traversed shop to the carpeted and mirrored saloon of trade, nothing? Are they not, one and all, practical puffs, intended to invest commerce with elegance, and to throw a halo round extravagance?
    • 1848, Mrs. White, "Puffs and Puffing", in Sharpe's London Magazine
      Here the duke is made the vehicle of the tailor's advertisement, and the prelusive compliments, ostensibly meant for his grace, merge into a covert recommendation of the coat. Several specimens might be given of this species of puff, which is to be met with in almost every paper, and is a favourite form with booksellers, professional men, &c.
    • 2008, David Paton-Williamspage, Katterfelto, page xii
      He was the eighteenth century king of spin, or, in the language of the day, the "prince of puff".
  7. A puffball.
  8. A powder puff.
  9. (uncountable, slang) The drug cannabis.
  10. (countable) A light cake filled with cream, cream cheese, etc.
    cream puff
  11. (derogatory, slang, UK, particularly northern UK) a homosexual; a poof
  12. (slang, dated, UK) life
    • 1938, P. G. Wodehouse (Bertie Wooster speaking of Spode) in The Code of the Woosters
      Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?


Derived terms[edit]



puff ‎(third-person singular simple present puffs, present participle puffing, simple past and past participle puffed)

  1. (intransitive) To emit smoke, gas, etc., in puffs.
  2. (intransitive) To pant.
    • L'Estrange
      The ass comes back again, puffing and blowing, from the chase.
    • 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Land That Time Forgot Chapter VI
      Puffing and panting, we plodded on until within about a mile of the harbor we came upon a sight that brought us all up standing.
  3. (transitive, archaic) To advertise.
  4. To blow as an expression of scorn.
    • South
      It is really to defy Heaven to puff at damnation.
  5. To swell with air; to be dilated or inflated.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Boyle to this entry?)
  6. To breathe in a swelling, inflated, or pompous manner; hence, to assume importance.
    • Herbert
      Then came brave Glory puffing by.
  7. To drive with a puff, or with puffs.
    • Dryden
      The clearing north will puff the clouds away.
  8. To repel with words; to blow at contemptuously.
    • Dryden
      I puff the prostitute away.
  9. To cause to swell or dilate; to inflate.
    a bladder puffed with air
    • Shakespeare
      the sea puffed up with winds
  10. To inflate with pride, flattery, self-esteem, etc.; often with up.
    • Jowett
      puffed up with military success
  11. To praise with exaggeration; to flatter; to call public attention to by praises; to praise unduly.
    • Macaulay
      puffed with wonderful skill

Derived terms[edit]





  1. poof (deflating object or a magical disappearance)