Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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FUFF, v., n., int. Also †fuf. [fʌf]

I. v., intr. 1. To puff, blow gently. Gen.Sc.; to pant. Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence †fuffars, bellows (Ags. 1808 Jam.); fuffy, light, soft and easily blown about (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; m.Lth.1 1953). Sc. 1721  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 187:
When Strangers landed, wow sae thrang Fuffin and peghing he wa'd gang.
Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry 160:
For ane that gat in o' that rout, Ten fuffin' stood a while thairout.
Abd. 1920  G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 35:
The day wis bricht, a wee bit win' cam' fuffin fae the wast.
ne.Sc. 1929  M. W. Simpson Day's End 26:
For gane it sall be — as a caun'le-lowe Gangs oot wi' a fuffin' braith.
Edb. 1931  E. Albert Herrin' Jennie 255:
A little wind fuffed at the corner.

2. (1) tr. and intr. To emit puffs of smoke or vapour, to hiss, explode with a puff (I., ne.Sc., Ags., m.Lth., Ayr., Rxb. 1953). Hence fuffy, of a fire, flickering (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Add.). Slk. 1822  Hogg Perils of Man I. 39:
He brings me in mind o' a barrel o' beer, fuming and fuffing.
Edb. 1843  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie ii.:
The bonnie, bonnie bairn, wha' sits pokin in the ase . . . Laughin' at the fuffin' lowe, what sees he there?
Kcb. 1885  A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe i.:
An' see ye hae nae deaf anes [nuts], or there'll be mair o' them fuffin' up the lum than some o' ye'll be carin' aboot.
Kcb. 1894  Crockett Raiders xxvii.:
The pot boiled and fuffed out little puffs of steam.
Lth. 1928  S. A. Robertson With Double Tongue 36:
But sair my he'rt misgies me, for the nut wi' Sandie's name Fuffed up amang the blackness, and the fire lost a' its flame.
wm.Sc. 1950  M. Hamilton Bull's Penny i.:
The wag-at-the-wa' was tacking yet and in the fire the peat was fuffing.
Ayr. 1952 9 :
She lifted the lid o the pot and the steam fuffed up in her face.

(2) Of an enraged animal, esp. a cat: to spit, hiss (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Edb., Lnk., Kcb., Dmf., Rxb. 1953). Also in n.Eng. dial. Sometimes fig. extended to persons. Hence fuffy, apt to spit, like a cat (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Add.). Ayr. 1790  A. Tait Poems 131:
In't stap't a cat . . . She fufft and waw't.
Sc. 1840  J. W. Carlyle Letters (ed. Froude 1883) I. 124:
Coiled up and fuffing like a young tiger about to spring.
Edb. 1892  J. W. McLaren Sc. Poems 61:
The sleeping baudrons fuft and glowered.
Abd. 1913  Abd. Univ. Review (Nov.) 39:
She again refused him still more scornfully. As he said, “she fuffed an' blew at me.”
Dmf. 1917  J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne (1929) 101:
Look at them, man, an' dinna stan' fuffin' an' spittin' there like an adder.
Bwk. 1947  W. L. Ferguson Makar's Medley 60:
She [a cat] fuff't and spat, birl't roond and roond.

(3) Fig.: to go off in a rage, in a huff, to fly up in a temper (Abd., Fif., m.Lth., Bwk., Rxb. 1953); to get excited (Peb. 1953). Hence fuffy, short-tempered, testy (Sc. 1887 Jam., Add.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Add.) and adv. fuffily, huffily, scornfully (Sc. 1887 Jam., Add.). Sc. 1756  Mrs Calderwood Jnl. (M.C.) 204:
She fuffed and kindled, if they but opened their mouth.
Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie lxxxviii.:
I wouldna be surprised an' he fuff'd awa' wi' a' his goud and gear to Miss Jenny Templeton o' the Braehead.
Ayr. 1858  M. Porteous Souter Johnny 30:
But nocht invites Your fuffy bardship.
Sc. 1893  Stevenson Catriona xxi.:
She must fuff in this ridiculous passion.
Edb. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xii.:
The verra mention o' Tod-Lowrie's name was eneuch to gar her fuff up like a pioy.
Sc. 1931  J. Lorimer Red Sergeant 133:
An' fegs, I never saw her fuff like yon afore.

3. To sniff, snuffle, as of one about to cry (Slk. 1825 Jam.; m.Lth.1 1953). Rare. Slk. 1822  Hogg Perils of Man II. vii.:
I should hae said something in return, but . . . I was like to fa' to the fuffling and greeting.

4. tr. To cause to emit puffs of smoke, to blow up, to smoke (a pipe). Ayr. 1786  Burns Halloween xiii.:
She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt, In wrath she was sae vap'rin.
Mry. 1810  J. Cock Simple Strains 123:
Tam fuf't the pipe wi' awfu' lunt, An' set auld Kate a hostin'.
Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xlv.:
[To] learn the Captain to fuff his pipe some other gate than in God's house.
Ags. 1866  Arbroath Guide (20 Jan.):
She fuff't up the lowe wi' the wind o' her mou'.
Abd. 1922  Swatches o' Hamespun 64:
He fuffed a quile alowe, kenelt a scrokled skelb or twa.

5. tr. To puff out, as a hen with its feathers. Usu. with out, up (Sh., Ork., Abd. 1953).

II. n. 1. A puff, a gentle gust (of wind), a slight explosion, sputter, a whiff (Sh., Cai., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Slg., Fif., m.Lth., Arg., Kcb. 1953). Used adv. in phr. to play fuff, to go puff!, bang! Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 304:
The first fuff of a fat Haggish is the worst. If you wrestle with a fat Man, and sustain his first Onset, he will soon be out of Breath.
Kcb. 1808  J. Mayne Siller Gun 51:
Fuff play'd the priming — heels owr ither, They fell in shairn!
Sc. 1816  Scott Antiquary ix.:
The ghaist . . . then disappeared like a fuff o' tobacco.
Sc. 1895  U.P. Mag. (April) 167:
The stillness was unbroken save by the cheerful fuff of the fire.
Kcb. 1896  Crockett Cleg Kelly xxiv.:
Dinna gang aff like the fuff o' a match.
Ayr. 1901  “G. Douglas” Green Shutters x.:
“Aye,” said Sandy Toddle, “a fuff in the pan, I'm thinking.”
Abd. 1924  Swatches o' Hamespun 52:
A peer ablach o' a craitur 'at a fuff o' win wid blaw awa.

2. A hiss, spit, of a cat or other animal (ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., m.Lth., Lnk., Ayr., Kcb., Dmf., Rxb. 1953). Bch. 1804  W. Tarras Poems 67:
Something hin' her, wi' a skyte Gat up, an' gied a fuff!
Sc. 1815  Scott Letters (Cent. ed.) IV. 54:
You are puzzled with the word fuff which he applies to the noise of the lioness. It is a very expressive Scotch word applicable in its primitive sense to the explosive noise which a cat makes in flying at a dog.
Sc. 1870  A. Hislop Proverbs 276:
The breath o' a fause friend's waur than the fuff o' a weasel.
Ayr. 1871  J. K. Hunter Life Studies xlv.:
Wi' a spring like a tiger, an' a fuff, spit, and fizz.
Sc. 1887  Stevenson Merry Men 150:
There cam' a clap o' wund, like a cat's fuff.

3. A sudden outburst of temper, a huff, an abrupt fit of displeasure (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Fif. 1825 Jam.; Bnff., Ags., Fif., m.Lth. 1953); excitement (Peb. 1953). Phr. to take a fuff, to get up in a pet, to show sudden displeasure (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Ags. 1953). Sc. 1827  Scott Chrons. Canongate, Croftangry v.:
The short and hasty expressions of anger which Highlanders call a fuff.
Dmf. 1834  Carlyle in
Froude Early Life (1882) II. 410:
What a miserable fuff thou gettest into, poor old exasperated politician!
Bwk. 1876  W. Brockie Confessional 179:
But, oh, she goes an unco fuff, Gin e'er she kens me prime my mill.
Sc. 1893  Stevenson Catriona xx.:
The causelessness of all this fuff.
Gall. 1928  Gallov. Annual 89:
Oh, I ken a'm easy angert, A'm juist up in a fuff an' a lowe — a' in a meenite.

4. A puffing up, a blowing about, a flurry, flutter (Abd.27 1953). Rare. Mry. 1952  Bulletin (28 Oct.) 4:
The pullets gleaning there run before the blast in a fuff of feathers.

5. Something light and easily blown about; a wisp; fluff. Rare. Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 34:
Ye man t'ink hid wusno an aisy wallop, whin I tell you, hid . . . ca'd him spinnin' i' the sea as gin he been a strae fuff.
Lth. 1925  C. P. Slater Marget Pow 30:
The house is not half cleaned; the fuff under the beds is a fair disgrace.

III. int. An exclamation indicating a hissing or explosive noise, like a cat spitting, or expressing exasperation or contempt; puff! psst! pshaw! (ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., m.Lth., Dmf. 1953). Bch. 1804  W. Tarras Poem 4:
Fuff, Robie man! cheer up your dowie saul!
wm.Sc. 1854  Laird of Logan 547:
“Fuff! fuff!” quo' the Haggis, “thou vile lying knave.”
Fif. 1894  J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 41:
The sicht gar'd even puir Baudrons, wha'd been watchin' his manœuvres, jump nearly four feet wi' fricht and fuff! fuff!! fuff!!!

[Imit. O.Sc. fuf(f), to puff. 1513, to spit, 1681, a puff, 1540.]

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"Fuff v., n., interj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Feb 2019 <>



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