1. a fold or band serving as a trimming or finish for the bottom of a sleeve.
  2. a turned-up fold, as at the bottom of a trouser leg.
  3. the part of a gauntlet or long glove that extends over the wrist.
  4. a separate or detachable band or piece of fabric worn about the wrist, inside or outside of the sleeve.
  5. an elasticized, ribbed, or reinforced band at the top of a sock or stocking.
  6. 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.
  7. a handcuff.
  8. Anatomy. a bandlike muscle or group of muscles encircling a body part.
  9. Furniture. a horizontal strip of veneer used as an ornament on a leg.
  10. 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)
  1. to make a cuff or cuffs on: to cuff a pair of trousers.
  2. to put handcuffs on.
  1. 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.
  2. 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

1350–1400; Middle English cuffe mitten; perhaps akin to Old English cuffie cap < Medieval Latin cuphia coif1
Can be confusedcough cuff koph


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

Origin of cuff

1520–30; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Low German kuffen, Norwegian, Swedish dialect kuffa to push, shove Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for cuffs

sock, belt, box, knock, poke, hit, clip, slap, wallop, punch, buffet, chop, smack, biff, clout, rap, thump, whack, bat, pummel

Examples from the Web for cuffs

Contemporary Examples of cuffs

Historical Examples of cuffs

  • Not all my kicks and cuffs and beatings had sufficed one whit to repulse him.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • She might begin on Monday if she could find her black dress, white apron, cap, and cuffs.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • Arlt plays like an artist; but he blushes, and he forgets to keep his cuffs in sight.

    The Dominant Strain

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • It is a neat ornament for cuffs, skirts and capes, and childrens pelisses.

  • His cuffs were frayed and there were wine-stains on his shabby clothes.

    Olive in Italy

    Moray Dalton

British Dictionary definitions for cuffs


pl n
  1. informal short for handcuffsSee handcuff (def. 2)


  1. the part of a sleeve nearest the hand, sometimes turned back and decorative
  2. the part of a gauntlet or glove that extends past the wrist
  3. US, Canadian and Australian the turned-up fold at the bottom of some trouser legsAlso called (in eg Britain): turn-up
  4. off the cuff informal improvised; extemporary
See also cuffs

Word Origin for cuff

C14 cuffe glove, of obscure origin


  1. (tr) to strike with an open hand
  1. 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

Word Origin and History for cuffs



"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

cuffs in Medicine


  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.

Idioms and Phrases with cuffs


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.