- n. & v.
1 a a short quick blast of breath or wind. b the sound of this; a similar sound. c a small quantity of vapour, smoke, etc., emitted in one blast (went up in a puff of smoke).
2 a cake etc. containing jam, cream, etc., and made of light esp. puff pastry.
3 a gathered mass of material in a dress etc. (puff sleeve).
4 a rolled protuberant mass of hair.
5 a an extravagantly enthusiastic review of a book etc., esp. in a newspaper. b an advertisement for goods etc., esp. in a newspaper.
6 = powder-puff.
7 US an eiderdown.
8 colloq. one's life (in all my puff).
1 intr. emit a puff of air or breath; blow with short blasts.
2 intr. (usu. foll. by away, out, etc.) (of a person smoking, a steam engine, etc.) emit or move with puffs (puffing away at his cigar; a train puffed out of the station).
3 tr. (usu. in passive; often foll. by out) put out of breath (arrived somewhat puffed; completely puffed him out).
4 intr. breathe hard; pant.
5 tr. utter pantingly ('No more,' he puffed).
6 intr. & tr. (usu. foll. by up, out) become or cause to become inflated; swell (his eye was inflamed and puffed up; puffed up the balloon).
7 tr. (usu. foll. by out, up, away) blow or emit (dust, smoke, a light object, etc.) with a puff.
8 tr. smoke (a pipe etc.) in puffs.
9 tr. (usu. as puffed up adj.) elate; make proud or boastful.
10 tr. advertise or promote (goods, a book, etc.) with exaggerated or false praise.
Phrases and idioms:
puff-adder a large venomous African viper, Bitis arietans, which inflates the upper part of its body and hisses when excited. puff and blow = sense 4 of v. puff-ball any of various fungi having a ball-shaped spore case. puff pastry light flaky pastry. puff-puff Brit. a childish word for a steam-engine or train. puff up = sense 9 of v.
Etymology: ME puf, puffe, perh. f. OE, imit. of the sound of breath
Useful english dictionary. 2012.