whiff

1
[hwif, wif]

noun

verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)


Origin of whiff

1
1585–95; aspirated variant of Middle English weffe whiff (of steam or vapor)
Related formswhiff·er, noun

whiff

2
[hwif, wif]

noun

any of several flatfishes having both eyes on the left side of the head, of the genus Citharichthys, as C. cornutus (horned whiff), inhabiting Atlantic waters from New England to Brazil.

Origin of whiff

2
First recorded in 1705–15; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


Examples from the Web for whiff

Contemporary Examples of whiff

Historical Examples of whiff

  • But he brought into the house with him a whiff of cheeriness and hope for which I could not but be grateful.

  • Jeff could almost feel the whiff and wind of the temperamental rush.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • Now, Peter came so fast that the air whistled about him, jumped—and whiff!

  • He had breathed a whiff of perfume of which he said nothing either—of some perfume he did not know.

    Within the Tides

    Joseph Conrad

  • After a while a whiff of smoke drifted round to where he sat.


British Dictionary definitions for whiff

whiff

1

noun

a passing odour
a brief gentle gust of air
a single inhalation or exhalation from the mouth or nose

verb

to come, convey, or go in whiffs; puff or waft
to take in or breathe out (tobacco smoke, air, etc)
(tr) to sniff or smell
(intr) British slang to have an unpleasant smell; stink
Derived Formswhiffer, noun

Word Origin for whiff

C16: of imitative origin

whiff

2

noun

mainly British a narrow clinker-built skiff having outriggers, for one oarsman

Word Origin for whiff

C19: special use of whiff 1
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 whiff
n.

13c., weffe "foul scent or odor," of imitative origin. Modern form became popular late 16c. with tobacco smoking, probably influenced by whiffle "blow in gusts or puffs" (1560s). The verb in the baseball slang sense "to swing at a ball and miss" first recorded 1913.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper