[ kuhf ]
/ kʌf /
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See synonyms for: cuff / cuffed / cuffs on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)


Can You Define These Modern Relationship Words?

Are you currently in the dating scene? Well, if you aren't (or haven't been in the last 5 years) you may be completely unfamiliar with a whole subset of dating and relationship terms out there. Time to find out!

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Idioms about cuff

    off the cuff, Informal.
    1. extemporaneously; on the spur of the moment: She made those comments off the cuff, and they came back to haunt her later.
    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 cuff

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English cuffe “mitten”; perhaps akin to Old English cuffie “cap,” from Medieval Latin cuphia; see origin at coif2


cough, cuff , koph

Other definitions for cuff (2 of 2)

[ kuhf ]
/ kʌf /

verb (used with object)
to strike with the open hand; beat; buffet.
a blow with the fist or the open hand; buffet.

Origin of cuff

First recorded in 1520–30; origin uncertain; perhaps from a Scandinavian language; compare Norwegian, Swedish dialect kuffa “to push, shove”; also German cant kuffen “to thrash”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What else does cuff mean?

Cuff can refer to the ends of sleeves or rolled pants, handcuffs, or, in the world of modern love, the act of going steady with someone over the winter months.

Where does cuff come from?

A cuff, which originally referred to a mitten or glove, is the end of your shirt sleeve. Garments that are rolled up on the ends are also said to be cuffed.

The expression off-the-cuff emerged in the 1930s for speaking without having anything prepared beforehand (i.e., notes written on the cuffs of one’s sleeve, which was apparently a thing).

Cuffs has also been short for handcuffs since the 19th century and later lent itself to slang. In the 2010s, dating culture began to refer to getting cuffed and cuffing season. This is when someone shacks up with someone else during the fall and winter months—when no one wants to be alone over the holidays and wants to cuddle up with an S.O. in the cold. The metaphor is of handcuffing oneself to a partner (being exclusive) during these times as opposed to single in spring and summer. The term was popularized by rapper Fabolous’s 2013 song “Cuffin Season.”

How is cuff used in real life?

Cuff, of course, widely refers to the ends of sleeves or other parts of clothing (e.g., cuffed jeans). Off the cuff, for improvised or candid speaking, often appears in the expression off-the-cuff remarks or comments. Such words are often seen as trouble-making or hurtful due to their in-the-moment nature.

When talking about a relationship, you can use cuff in verb forms (to cuff someone or get cuffed) and in noun forms (cuffing season). Cuffing season is a popular topic in lifestyle publications each year when the leaves start changing color.

More examples of cuff:

“Spring is officially here, which means you can finally come out of hibernation and venture back out into the world. The question is, now that you can leave the house again, do you still need the person you cuffed up with during winter to ride (literally) out the spring with? After all, it’s tradition to un-cuff as soon as the weather permits, so there’s a good chance that when you first got together in chillier times, it was just a seasonal love affair.”
—Rachel Shatto, Elite Daily, March, 2018


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use cuff in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cuff (1 of 2)

/ (kʌf) /

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 and Australian the turned-up fold at the bottom of some trouser legsAlso called (in eg Britain): turn-up
off the cuff informal improvised; extemporary
See also cuffs

Word Origin for cuff

C14 cuffe glove, of obscure origin

British Dictionary definitions for cuff (2 of 2)

/ (kʌf) /

(tr) to strike with an open hand
a blow of this kind

Word Origin for cuff

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with cuff


see off the cuff; on the cuff.

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