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[kuhf] /kʌf/
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.
  1. extemporaneously; on the spur of the moment.
  2. unofficially or informally:
    I'm telling you this strictly off the cuff.
on the cuff, Slang.
  1. with the promise of future payment; on credit.
  2. without charge; with no payment expected:
    He enjoyed his meal the more because it was on the cuff.
Origin of cuff1
1350-1400; Middle English cuffe mitten; perhaps akin to Old English cuffie cap < Medieval Latin cuphia coif1
Can be confused
cough, cuff, koph. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for on the cuff


the part of a sleeve nearest the hand, sometimes turned back and decorative
the part of a gauntlet or glove that extends past the wrist
(US & Canadian, Austral) the turned-up fold at the bottom of some trouser legs Also called (in eg Britain) turn-up
(informal) off the cuff, improvised; extemporary
See also cuffs
Word Origin
C14 cuffe glove, of obscure origin


(transitive) to strike with an open hand
a blow of this kind
Word Origin
C16: of obscure 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 on the cuff



"bottom of a sleeve," mid-14c., cuffe "hand covering, mitten, glove," perhaps somehow from Medieval Latin 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 American English colloquial, suggesting an actor or speaker reading from notes jotted on his shirt sleeves rather than learned lines. Cuff links is from 1897.



"hit," 1520s, of unknown origin, perhaps from Swedish kuffa "to thrust, push." Related: Cuffed; cuffing. As a noun from 1560s.



"to put a cuff on," 1690s, from cuff (n.). Related: Cuffed; cuffing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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on the cuff in Medicine

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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Slang definitions & phrases for on the cuff

on the cuff

adjective phrase

Free: On-the-cuff drinks are delicious

adverb phrase

  1. On credit: The mutt puts me on the cuff for the drinks
  2. Free of charge: He promised me lodging on the cuff

[mid-1920s+; fr the practice of noting debts on the cuff of the shirt, esp on a detachable cuff]



  1. To borrow money from someone, usually in an urgent way
  2. To charge something, esp on an expense account: No man feels he is getting ahead until he can cuff a few tabs on the firm
  3. To put handcuffs on someone: Cuff him and book him, Flanagan (1693+)

Related Terms

off the cuff, on the cuff, put the cuff on someone

[1920s+; first two senses fr the notion of keeping track of debts by notations on the cuff of one's shirt]

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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Idioms and Phrases with on the cuff

on the cuff

On credit, as in He tried to hire a detective on the cuff. It is sometimes put asput 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 [ ; 1920s ]
Free of charge, as in We hope these drinks are on the cuff. [ ; 1920s ]
Also see: on the house
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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