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[kuhf] /kʌf/
a fold or band serving as a trimming or finish for the bottom of a sleeve.
a turned-up fold, as at the bottom of a trouser leg.
the part of a gauntlet or long glove that extends over the wrist.
a separate or detachable band or piece of fabric worn about the wrist, inside or outside of the sleeve.
an elasticized, ribbed, or reinforced band at the top of a sock or stocking.
a band of leather or other material, wider than a collar, sewed around the outside of the top of a shoe or boot to serve as a trimming or finish.
Anatomy. a bandlike muscle or group of muscles encircling a body part.
Furniture. a horizontal strip of veneer used as an ornament on a leg.
Medicine/Medical. an inflatable wrap placed around the upper arm and used in conjunction with a device for recording blood pressure.
verb (used with object)
to make a cuff or cuffs on:
to cuff a pair of trousers.
to put handcuffs on.
off the cuff, Informal.
  1. extemporaneously; on the spur of the moment.
  2. unofficially or informally:
    I'm telling you this strictly off the cuff.
on the cuff, Slang.
  1. with the promise of future payment; on credit.
  2. without charge; with no payment expected:
    He enjoyed his meal the more because it was on the cuff.
Origin of cuff1
1350-1400; Middle English cuffe mitten; perhaps akin to Old English cuffie cap < Medieval Latin cuphia coif1
Can be confused
cough, cuff, koph.


[kuhf] /kʌf/
verb (used with object)
to strike with the open hand; beat; buffet.
a blow with the fist or the open hand; buffet.
1520-30; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Low German kuffen, Norwegian, Swedish dialect kuffa to push, shove Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cuff
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Captain Brisket took Mr. Stobell by the cuff and after a slight altercation drew him inside.

  • I am starting on a hunt in darkest Deanery for my cuff links.

  • Gie him a cuff at Martinmas, and his cheek will be tingling at Whitsunday.

    The Fair Maid of Perth Sir Walter Scott
  • Then it was that no cuff nor sharp word was necessary before they could pat him.

    White Fang Jack London
  • But one was (most dishonestly) too big to cuff in spite of his greener years.

    Kipps H. G. Wells
British Dictionary definitions for cuff


the part of a sleeve nearest the hand, sometimes turned back and decorative
the part of a gauntlet or glove that extends past the wrist
(US & Canadian, Austral) the turned-up fold at the bottom of some trouser legs Also called (in eg Britain) turn-up
(informal) off the cuff, improvised; extemporary
See also cuffs
Word Origin
C14 cuffe glove, of obscure origin


(transitive) to strike with an open hand
a blow of this kind
Word Origin
C16: of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cuff

"bottom of a sleeve," mid-14c., cuffe "hand covering, mitten, glove," perhaps somehow from Medieval Latin cuffia "head covering," of uncertain origin. Sense of "band around the sleeve" is first attested 1520s; sense of "hem of trousers" is 1911. Off the cuff "extemporaneously" is 1938 American English colloquial, suggesting an actor or speaker reading from notes jotted on his shirt sleeves rather than learned lines. Cuff links is from 1897.


"to put a cuff on," 1690s, from cuff (n.). Related: Cuffed; cuffing.

"hit," 1520s, of unknown origin, perhaps from Swedish kuffa "to thrust, push." Related: Cuffed; cuffing. As a noun from 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cuff in Medicine

cuff (kŭf)

  1. A bandlike structure encircling a part.

  2. An inflatable band, usually wrapped around the upper arm, that is used along with a sphygmomanometer in measuring arterial blood pressure.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for cuff



  1. To borrow money from someone, usually in an urgent way
  2. To charge something, esp on an expense account: No man feels he is getting ahead until he can cuff a few tabs on the firm
  3. To put handcuffs on someone: Cuff him and book him, Flanagan (1693+)

Related Terms

off the cuff, on the cuff, put the cuff on someone

[1920s+; first two senses fr the notion of keeping track of debts by notations on the cuff of one's shirt]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with cuff
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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