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  • IPA(key): /skʌf/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌf

Etymology 1[edit]

From Scots scuff (to touch lightly, graze, hit), of obscure origin. Perhaps from Old Norse skúfa (to shove, push aside), from Proto-Germanic *skeubaną (to shove). Or, perhaps imitative. More at English shove.


scuff (third-person singular simple present scuffs, present participle scuffing, simple past and past participle scuffed)

  1. To scrape the feet while walking.
  2. To scrape and roughen the surface of (shoes, etc.)
  3. To hit lightly, to brush against.
    • 1979, V. S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River:
      The lawns and gardens had been scuffed away.
    • 2011 December 29, Keith Jackson, “SPL: Celtic 1 Rangers 0”, in Daily Record[1]:
      Wallace threw himself at it to connect with a flying header. He looked a certain scorer but his effort scuffed the inside of Fraser Forster’s post.
  4. To mishit (a shot on a ball) due to poor contact with the ball.
    • 2011 September 2, “Wales 2-1 Montenegro”, in BBC[2]:
      The Montenegro captain was finding space at will and followed up with a speculative shot that he scuffed wide, after Wales were slow in closing down the Juventus striker.
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scuff (plural scuffs)

  1. (sometimes attributive) A mark left by scuffing or scraping.
    Someone left scuff marks in the sand.
    • 2015, Charles W. Jones, Hydrangeas on the Lanai:
      He flung his shoes across the room, their soles leaving black scuffs on the dingy wall.
  2. The sound of a scuff or scrape
    • 2009, David Walliams, Mr Stink:
      All you could hear was the rhythmic scuff of Mr. Stink’s battered brogues as he walked slowly along the road
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Etymology 2[edit]


scuff (plural scuffs)

  1. A scurf; a scale.
  2. The back part of the neck; the scruff.
    • 1858, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, What Will He Do with It?:
      One of the biggest and most redoubted of the Black Family was now in that seat of dignity, and, refusing surlily to yield it at Jasper's rude summons, was seized by the scuff of the neck, and literally hurled on the table in front.

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