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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DUFF, n.1 Also †dufe, dof, diffie. [dʌf, døf]

1. “The soft or spongy part of a loaf, turnip, new cheese, etc.” (Cld. 1825 Jam.2, dufe; Ayr.4 1928, diffie).

2. A soft spongy peat (Sh.11 1949, duff; Per. 1825 Jam.2, dufe); decomposed vegetable matter such as moss, fallen leaves, etc.; when dried used as litter for cows (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), dof; 1913–14 J. M. Hutcheson W.-L.). Also used in U.S. Cf. Dowf, I. 3.

5. (1). Often in comb. duff-(dof) mould, id. (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Sh.11 1949).Sc. 1844 W. H. Maxwell Sports and Adv. (1853) xvi.:
The outfield, or less productive parts, which are often mossy and seldom drained, has also long received each year a portion of earth or sea-weed dung, mixed with duff-mould.
Sc. 1878 Pop. Sc. Monthly XII. 289 (N.E.D.):
This duff (composed of rotten spruce-trees, cones, needles, etc.) has the power of holding water almost equal to a sponge.
Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Shet. 415:
The wet stratum is . . . covered with a layer of duffmould, or dry decomposed moss.
Sh. 1897 Sh. News (28 Aug.):
I crep i' da byre ta see an' I coodna shül doon fae behint da kye an' pit a air o' duff i' der bissies.

[The same word as Eng. duff, dough, coaldust, orig. a variant of dough.]

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"Duff n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jun 2024 <>



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