• synonyms


[awf-thuh-kuhf, of-]
See more synonyms for off-the-cuff on Thesaurus.com
  1. with little or no preparation; extemporaneous; impromptu: a speaker with a good off-the-cuff delivery.
Show More

Origin of off-the-cuff

First recorded in 1940–45


  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.
Show More
verb (used with object)
  1. to make a cuff or cuffs on: to cuff a pair of trousers.
  2. to put handcuffs on.
Show More
  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.
Show More

Origin of cuff1

1350–1400; Middle English cuffe mitten; perhaps akin to Old English cuffie cap < Medieval Latin cuphia coif1
Can be confusedcough cuff koph
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for off the cuff


  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
Show More
See also cuffs

Word Origin

C14 cuffe glove, of obscure origin


  1. (tr) to strike with an open hand
Show More
  1. a blow of this kind
Show More

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

Word Origin and History for off 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.

Show More



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

Show More



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

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

off the cuff 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.
Show More
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with off the cuff

off the cuff

Impromptu, extemporaneous, as in His speech was entirely off the cuff. This term supposedly alludes to the practice of speakers making last-minute notes on the cuff of a shirtsleeve. [1930s]

Show More


see off the cuff; on the cuff.

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