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[muhf] /mʌf/
a thick, tubular case for the hands, covered with fur or other material, used by women and girls for warmth and as a handbag.
a bungled or clumsy action or performance.
Sports. a failure to hold onto a ball that may reasonably be expected to be caught successfully.
a tuft of feathers on the sides of the head of certain fowls.
Slang: Vulgar. a woman's pubic area.
See under muff glass.
verb (used with object)
Informal. to bungle; handle clumsily:
He muffed a good opportunity.
Sports. to fail to hold onto (a ball that may reasonably be expected to be caught successfully); fumble.
verb (used without object)
Informal. to bungle; perform clumsily.
Origin of muff
early Medieval Latin
1590-1600; < Dutch mof, earlier moffel, muffel mitten, muff < Old North French moufle < early Medieval Latin muffula, perhaps < Frankish
Related forms
muffy, adjective

muff glass

sheet glass made from a blown cylinder (muff) that is split and flattened. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for muff
Historical Examples
  • It remained on the muff several hours, and then flew to the window, and alighted on the curtain.

  • I asked if the muff, as well as the glove, had been searched carefully.

  • Mrs Swann was about to invade her courtly and luxurious house, uninvited, unauthorized, with a couple of hot potatoes in her muff.

  • I also told Aunt Belle to see about relining my mink cape and muff.

    The Gorgeous Girl Nalbro Bartley
  • The lady finally rescued him, but not until she had torn away half the lining from her muff.

    Bumper, The White Rabbit George Ethelbert Walsh
  • "You are no better than a muff," said Pike, and it was not in my power to deny it.

    Crocker's Hole R. D. Blackmore
  • She tossed her muff on the divan and made a laughing face at her disturbed small sister.

    Miss Pat at Artemis Lodge Pemberton Ginther
  • She withdrew her right hand from her muff and Foyle struck quickly at her wrist.

    The Grell Mystery Frank Froest
  • Rosamund just recognized them gravely; then she knelt down and prayed earnestly, with her face hidden against her muff.

    In the Wilderness Robert Hichens
  • She moved towards the door of the cottage, taking a key from her muff.

    The Borough Treasurer Joseph Smith Fletcher
British Dictionary definitions for muff


an open-ended cylinder of fur or cloth into which the hands are placed for warmth
the tuft on either side of the head of certain fowls
Word Origin
C16: probably from Dutch mof, ultimately from French mouffle muffle1


to perform (an action) awkwardly
(transitive) to bungle (a shot, catch, etc) in a game
any unskilful play in a game, esp a dropped catch
any clumsy or bungled action
a bungler
Word Origin
C19: of uncertain 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 muff

"warm covering for the hands," 1590s, from Dutch mof "a muff," shortened from Middle Dutch moffel "mitten, muff," from Middle French moufle "mitten," from Old French mofle "thick glove, large mitten, handcuffs" (9c.), from Medieval Latin muffula "a muff," of unknown origin. In 17c.-18c. also worn by men. Meaning "vulva and pubic hair" is from 1690s; muff-diver "one who performs cunnilingus" is from 1935.


"to bungle," 1827, pugilism slang, probably related to muff (n.) "awkward person" (1837), perhaps from muff (n.) on notion of someone clumsy because his hands are in a muff. Related: Muffed; muffing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for muff



  1. : dropped the ball, ''the $75,000 muff,'' as it was called
  2. A wig; a toupee; rug: wasn't wearing his muff (1940s+)
  3. The vulva and pubic hair; beaver (1699+)


To fail; botch, esp by clumsiness •The older example refers to playing cricket: This is a ripe one. Don't muff it, Billy (1837+)

[verb sense fr the clumsiness of someone wearing a muff on the hands]

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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