Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

WHIFF, n., v. Also Sc. forms whuff, whaff-; wheef (Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 8, 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. I. 37; Ork. 1943); queef. For freq. forms see Wheefle. Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. Of illness, mood, etc.: a ‘touch', slight attack (Sh., Abd., Ags., Slg., Lth., wm.Sc., Wgt., Rxb. 1974). Sc. 1837  Carlyle New Letters (1904) I. 58:
I have twice had flying whiffs of cold.
Kcb. 1890  A. J. Armstrong Ingleside Musings 205:
Oor life wings alang, wi' a whuff noo an' than O' the dark han' o' cauld Daddy Care.
Rnf. 1898  J. M. Henderson Kartdale 315:
The laddie's conduct is something I cannae explain except that he has had a whiff o' the jiff-jaffs.

2. A glimpse, a fleeting vision. Also in n.Eng. dial. Kcb. 1896  A. J. Armstrong Kirkiebrae xv.:
Never seen a whuff o' her since.

3. An instant, a short time, a ‘jiffy', gen. in phr. in a whiff (Sh., n.Sc., Lnk., sm.Sc., Rxb. 1974). Dim. forms whuffy; whaffy, “a busy minute” (Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C.). Also in Eng. dial. Kcb. 1885  A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe xxii.:
Jim'll be here in a whuff.
e.Lth. 1892  J. Lumsden Sheep Head 39:
The furious onslaucht, knife and fork, Was a' owre in a whuffy.

II. v. 1. tr. To drive or carry by blowing; to blow out (a candle, etc.). Obs. in Eng.; intr. of a light: to be extinguished by blowing, also fig. to be snuffed out. Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 474:
He whufft out the candle; he suddenly blew out the candle.
Sc. 1843  Sc. Songs (Whitelaw) 444:
My heart's ease whuff'd out like licht.
e.Lth. 1908  J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 192:
For that hillside's wi' muckle stanes stuff'd, An' had I against them been whuff'd, By naucht else could I mair been rebuff'd!

2. intr. To move lightly or easily, as with a puff of air (Sh. 1974). Sh. 1897  Shetland News (5 June):
Sibbie wis queefin' aboot da butt fluir as kniff as a biggin' sparrow upo' da aisin' o' a hoos.

3. Phr. to whuff ower, to doze off, fall into slumber (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Ppl.adj. whufft, in a doze, hushed. Rxb. 1925  E. C. Smith Mang Howes 10:
Aathings whufft an dovert bar the midges an mei.

4. To “puff and blow” with anger, to bluster. Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie xxxiv.:
Your whuffing and bouncing are baith ill-war't on me. Keep your temper, doctor.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Whiff n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Mar 2018 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down