on the cuff


1 [kuhf]
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.
extemporaneously; on the spur of the moment.
unofficially or informally: I'm telling you this strictly off the cuff.
on the cuff, Slang.
with the promise of future payment; on credit.
without charge; with no payment expected: He enjoyed his meal the more because it was on the cuff.

1350–1400; Middle English cuffe mitten; perhaps akin to Old English cuffie cap < Medieval Latin cuphia coif

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cuff1 (kʌf)
1.  the part of a sleeve nearest the hand, sometimes turned back and decorative
2.  the part of a gauntlet or glove that extends past the wrist
3.  (US), (Canadian), (Austral) Also called (in eg Britain): turn-up the turned-up fold at the bottom of some trouser legs
4.  informal off the cuff improvised; extemporary
[C14 cuffe glove, of obscure origin]

cuff2 (kʌf)
1.  (tr) to strike with an open hand
2.  a blow of this kind
[C16: of obscure origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

mid-14c., cuffe "hand covering," perhaps somehow from M.L. 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 Amer.Eng. colloquial, suggesting an actor or speaker reading from
notes jotted on his shirt sleeves rather than learned lines. Cuff links is from 1897.

"hit," 1530, perhaps from Sw. kuffa "to thrust, push."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

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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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

on the cuff

  1. On credit, as in He tried to hire a detective on the cuff. It is sometimes put as put on the cuff, meaning "extend credit to," as in They asked to be put on the cuff until they got their monthly check. This usage probably alludes to the practice of recording bar tabs on the bartender's cuff. Also see off the cuff. [Slang; 1920s]

  2. Free of charge, as in We hope these drinks are on the cuff. [Slang; 1920s] Also see on the house.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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