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muff

[muhf]
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noun
  1. a thick, tubular case for the hands, covered with fur or other material, used by women and girls for warmth and as a handbag.
  2. a bungled or clumsy action or performance.
  3. Sports. a failure to hold onto a ball that may reasonably be expected to be caught successfully.
  4. a tuft of feathers on the sides of the head of certain fowls.
  5. Slang: Vulgar. a woman's pubic area.
  6. See under muff glass.
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verb (used with object)
  1. Informal. to bungle; handle clumsily: He muffed a good opportunity.
  2. Sports. to fail to hold onto (a ball that may reasonably be expected to be caught successfully); fumble.
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verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to bungle; perform clumsily.
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Origin of muff

1590–1600; < Dutch mof, earlier moffel, muffel mitten, muff < Old North French moufle < early Medieval Latin muffula, perhaps < Frankish
Related formsmuff·y, adjective

muff glass

noun
  1. sheet glass made from a blown cylinder (muff) that is split and flattened.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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.

  • 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


British Dictionary definitions for muff

muff1

noun
  1. an open-ended cylinder of fur or cloth into which the hands are placed for warmth
  2. the tuft on either side of the head of certain fowls
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Word Origin

C16: probably from Dutch mof, ultimately from French mouffle muffle 1

muff2

verb
  1. to perform (an action) awkwardly
  2. (tr) to bungle (a shot, catch, etc) in a game
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noun
  1. any unskilful play in a game, esp a dropped catch
  2. any clumsy or bungled action
  3. a bungler
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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

Word Origin and History for muff

n.

"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.

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v.

"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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper