Dictionary.com

bluff

1
[ bluhf ]
/ blʌf /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: bluff / bluffer / bluffing on Thesaurus.com

adjective, bluff·er, bluff·est.
good-naturedly direct, blunt, or frank; heartily outspoken: a big, bluff, generous man.
presenting a bold and nearly perpendicular front, as a coastline: a bluff, precipitous headland.
Nautical. (of the bow of a vessel) having a full, blunt form.
noun
a cliff, headland, or hill with a broad, steep face.
North Dakota, Wisconsin, and the Canadian Prairie Provinces. a clump or grove of trees on a prairie or other generally treeless area.
QUIZ
QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!
Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of bluff

1
First recorded in 1620–30; origin uncertain; perhaps from Middle Low German blaff “smooth, even,” or from Middle Dutch blaf “broad, flat,” i.e., of a face or forehead

synonym study for bluff

1. See blunt.

OTHER WORDS FROM bluff

bluffly, adverbbluffness, noun

Other definitions for bluff (2 of 2)

bluff2
[ bluhf ]
/ blʌf /

verb (used with object)
to mislead by a display of strength, self-confidence, or the like: He bluffed me into believing that he was a doctor.
to gain by bluffing: He bluffed his way into the job.
Poker. to deceive by a show of confidence in the strength of one's cards.
verb (used without object)
to mislead someone by presenting a bold, strong, or self-confident front: That open face makes it impossible for him to bluff.
noun
an act or instance or the practice of bluffing: Her pathetic story was all a bluff to get money from us.His assertive manner is mostly bluff.
a person who bluffs; bluffer: That big bluff doesn't have a nickel to his name.

Origin of bluff

2
First recorded in 1665–75; origin uncertain; perhaps from Low German bluffen “to bluster, frighten”; akin to Middle Dutch bluffen “to make a trick at cards”

OTHER WORDS FROM bluff

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

MORE ABOUT BLUFF

What does bluff mean?

Bluff describes someone or something that is blunt or frank in a good-natured way. Someone who talks in a bluff manner says things directly but not hurtfully.

A bluff is a cliff or hill with a tall face on one side. Bluffs often border a river or ocean because they get their shape from erosion caused by the natural flow of water.

To bluff is to mislead by showing strength or confidence. People bluff to make themselves seem more powerful, larger, or of more authority than those being bluffed. A bluff is an act of bluffing.

Example: The cabin was built along the bluff, but erosion is making it sink down the hill.

Where does bluff come from?

The first records of bluff meaning “blunt” or “cliff” come from the 1620s. It is thought to come from the Middle Dutch blaf, meaning “broad” or “flat,” which also describes the shape of the cliffside. The first records of bluff meaning “to mislead” come from the 1660s. It is thought to come from the Low German bluffen, meaning “to frighten.” Bluffing is often done to try to intimidate or frighten someone.

One of the most common uses of bluff is in the card game poker and other table games that involve betting. In poker, you place a bet, often in line with the confidence you have that your hand (the cards you’re holding) will win the game. If you bet higher than your confidence in your cards, this is a bluff. Bluffing can convince the other players that they will lose that game and force them to fold (withdraw from the game). Just as a bluff makes someone seem larger or stronger, a poker bluff makes a hand of cards seem more valuable.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to bluff?

  • bluffly (adverb)
  • bluffness (noun)
  • bluffable (adjective)
  • bluffer (noun)

What are some synonyms for bluff?

What are some words that often get used in discussing bluff?

How is bluff used in real life?

Bluff is often used to refer to intentionally misleading statements.

Try using bluff!

Is bluff used correctly in the following sentence?

I know you’re telling the truth, and I am calling your bluff.

How to use bluff in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bluff (1 of 2)

bluff1
/ (blʌf) /

verb
to pretend to be confident about an uncertain issue or to have undisclosed resources, in order to influence or deter (someone)
noun
deliberate deception intended to create the impression of a stronger position or greater resources than one actually has
call someone's bluff to challenge someone to give proof of his claims

Derived forms of bluff

bluffer, noun

Word Origin for bluff

C19: originally US poker-playing term, from Dutch bluffen to boast

British Dictionary definitions for bluff (2 of 2)

bluff2
/ (blʌf) /

noun
a steep promontory, bank, or cliff, esp one formed by river erosion on the outside bend of a meander
Canadian a clump of trees on the prairie; copse
adjective
good-naturedly frank and hearty
(of a bank, cliff, etc) presenting a steep broad face

Derived forms of bluff

bluffly, adverbbluffness, noun

Word Origin for bluff

C17 (in the sense: nearly perpendicular): perhaps from Middle Dutch blaf broad
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with bluff

bluff

see call someone's bluff.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
FEEDBACK