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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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.

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"Whiff n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2024 <>



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