• synonyms


  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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for muffing

flub, fumble, mishandle, botch, err, miscalculate, choke, blunder, mismanage, slip, boggle

Examples from the Web for muffing

Historical Examples of muffing

  • Still we can't afford to go on muffing and missing too long.

    Punch, or the London Charivari. Volume 93. August 27, 1887


  • The ball-player must do a lot of muffing and wild throwing before he can become a sure catcher and a straight thrower.

  • The seamstress, muffing her arms with the garment she was dipping in soapy water, did not answer.


    John Galsworthy

British Dictionary definitions for muffing


  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 for muff

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


  1. to perform (an action) awkwardly
  2. (tr) to bungle (a shot, catch, etc) in a game
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  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 for muff

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 muffing



"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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"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