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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for muff
Historical Examples
  • Jenkins is all very well for work, but he is nothing but a muff in other things.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • I asked if the muff, as well as the glove, had been searched carefully.

  • She drew the paper from her muff with an impulsive movement and thrust it toward him.

    The Inn at the Red Oak Latta Griswold
  • She threw down her cloak and muff, the instant she came in, with an air of ill-humour, and undressed herself in a hurried manner.

    The Secret Memoirs of Louis XV./XVI, Complete Madame du Hausset, an "Unknown English Girl" and the Princess Lamballe
  • Bobinette had swallowed the contents of a small phial hidden in her muff!

    A Nest of Spies Pierre Souvestre
  • He collided with the girl who, with a furtive gesture, slipped something into her muff.

    A Nest of Spies Pierre Souvestre
  • I also told Aunt Belle to see about relining my mink cape and muff.

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley
  • David winced at the huge bunch of violets fastened to her muff.

    David Dunne

    Belle Kanaris Maniates
  • Elinor slipped Judith's nervous hand into her muff within her own.

    Miss Pat at School

    Pemberton Ginther
  • Flora, blown by breezes North, Hides her fingers in her muff.

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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