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puff Line breaks: puff

Definition of puff in English:


1A short, explosive burst of breath or wind: a puff of wind swung the weathercock round
More example sentences
  • But soon the pain stopped and I sat there, my breath coming in short puffs.
  • Ansley could hear his breath coming in short puffs, even over the thundering of hooves that filled her ears.
  • At precisely the point of the peak of the roof, just a gentle puff of wind can determine the destiny of many raindrops.
gust, blast, rush, squall, gale, whiff, breath, flurry, draught, waft, breeze, blow
literary zephyr
1.1The sound of air or vapour escaping suddenly: the whistle and puff of steam
More example sentences
  • Soon with a whistle and a puff a steam train chugged through the snaky valley below.
  • Letting a puff of tired laughter escape his lips, Shanza added, ‘I spoke to Dezra.’
  • Three puffs of steam from the ship's whistle verified it received and understood the message.
1.2A small quantity of vapour or smoke, emitted in one blast: the fire breathed out a puff of blue smoke
More example sentences
  • Everyone rushes for their cameras while he turns into a puff of smoke.
  • Of course, it's not good to see a cherished icon of the community disappear in a puff of smoke, but I can't pretend my feelings about the disappearance of this old bird were anything but mixed.
  • With that, the adorable little demon disappeared in a puff of sulfurous smoke leaving behind only a feeling of unspeakable dread.
1.3An act of drawing quickly on a pipe, cigarette, or cigar: he took a puff of his cigar
More example sentences
  • He took a long puff of his cigar then sighed, blowing a steady stream of smoke.
  • The Rat Cutter took a few defiant puffs on his cigar.
  • ‘I can talk until I'm blue in the face,’ he once famously said, in between puffs on his Dominican cigar.
informal drag
1.4 [mass noun] British informal Breath: after a chase of over three miles he had finally run out of puff
More example sentences
  • Two musicians had enough puff left over after blowing their instruments to chase a thief who stole their band's collection bucket.
  • Scotland isn't very good at blowing its own trumpet, but luckily Tommy has puff to spare.
  • Defending himself Mr Stickley said: ‘I suffer from asthma and so I could not bring up enough puff for the test.’
2 [usually with modifier or in combination] A light pastry case, typically one made of puff pastry, containing a sweet or savoury filling: a jam puff
More example sentences
  • The wrapper may be plain bread dough but rich layered pastry is more characteristic, either filo or rough puff paste, made by the familiar sequence of buttering, folding, and rolling.
  • So does a wonderful dessert of fried plantain puffs centered with a pudding-like custard that's slightly sweet against the banana tartness.
  • There were chocolate cake, chocolate mouse, ice cream, crème caramel, cheesecake and custard puffs.
3 informal A review of a work of art, book, or theatrical production, especially an excessively complimentary one: the publishers sent him a copy of the book hoping for a puff
More example sentences
  • Kate's publisher offers us two brief ‘reviews’, which most of us would call puffs, from other writers, and a link to a longer review in the New York Times.
  • It stemmed from 17th-cent. abstracts of books and comments on publishers' puffs.
  • The other two books were by British authors, both of them well known in the thriller genre, and both books had covers which carried enthusiastic puffs from big names.
favourable mention, piece of publicity, favourable review, advertisement, promotion, recommendation, commendation, mention, good word, commercial
informal push, ad, boost
British informal advert
3.1British An advertisement, especially one exaggerating the value of the goods advertised: the distinction between a trader’s puff and a statement having legal significance is a fine one [mass noun]: extravagant statements are regarded as salesman’s puff
More example sentences
  • Not all statements are contractual in nature as some may be mere representations or commendatory puffs which, if true, lack any legal value.
  • The Big Caff, despite the promotional puff was actually quite small and bleak.
  • This document might in other circumstances not be taken too seriously, and be treated as a mere advertising puff, in which a strict regard for the truth is not to be expected.
patter, line, pitch, sales talk, presentation
informal spiel, hype, ballyhoo
4A gathered mass of material in a dress or other garment.
Example sentences
  • Anyways, this sleeves of this dress are examples of ‘deflated puffs.’
  • You watch her too, you watch her all the time. You were there when she was nobody, in the days when she still wore frills and shoulder puffs and smiled that terribly shy smile you thought was beautiful.
  • I used a Sky Blue Bridal Satin for the main dress and White Bridal Satin with White Organza overlays as the skirt puffs and sleeves.
4.1A rolled protuberant mass of hair: her hair was drawn up into a series of padded puffs and curves
More example sentences
  • From crimped waves to Afro puffs, fringed ends to soft waves, hair that gets noticed for being anything but flat is where it's at.
  • With her puff of black hair and sharp violet eyes, she shone out from among the other homogenous bland and blonde MGM beauties of her time, suggesting intelligence behind the acting.
  • Her puffs of tobacco-brown hair billowing about her shoulders.
4.2North American An eiderdown: the snowy beds were piled with plump pillows and puffs
More example sentences
  • I rolled back onto the bed feeling the residual warmth of our bodies still radiating from the pillows and puff.
  • In the center a low table was set up surrounded with chairs, pillows and puffs.
5A powder puff: she sent her a box of dusting powder with a swansdown puff
More example sentences
  • Alex opened the cardboard box and inside was powder and a puff.
  • With that, he grabbed a puff and began powdering his face with limp wrists.


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1 [no object] Breathe in repeated short gasps: exercises that make you puff
More example sentences
  • She noticed that she had crawled under the table, puffing and breathing hard.
  • She slid into the seat behind me, huffing and puffing like she was breathing with one lung.
  • Adam swayed back and forth, gasping and puffing.
1.1 [with adverbial] Move with short, noisy breaths or bursts of air or steam: the train came puffing in
More example sentences
  • It is a million miles away from the romantic shots of steam trains puffing their way across rural landscapes that most of us are used to.
  • Mist on the mountain draws me back sun on the sea so grand steam trains puffing on the railroad track away in the Isle of Man.
  • And Knysna, where you can board the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, a tiny steam train that puffs its way round the lagoon to George, down the coast.
1.2Smoke a pipe, cigarette, or cigar: he puffed on his pipe contentedly
More example sentences
  • One of the remaining models pulled out a cigarette and puffed on it nervously in an attempt to relieve the stress.
  • Gil puffed on his cigarette and sipped his brandy.
  • Candice sat beside him and poked him in the ribs as she puffed on a cigarette, ‘So?’
smoke, draw on, pull on, drag on, suck at/on
1.3 [with object] Blow (dust, smoke, or a light object) with a quick breath or blast of air: he puffed out smoke through his long cigarette holder
More example sentences
  • He filled it with tobacco and lit it, puffing the sweet smelling smoke around the car.
  • Boiling pools of dark mysterious liquid puff smoke of rancid sulphur fumes.
  • She puffs some smoke into the younger girl's face to emphasize.
1.4Move through the air in short bursts: his breath puffed out like white smoke
2 (puff something out/up or puff out/up) Swell or become swollen: [with object]: he suddenly sucked his stomach in and puffed his chest out [no object]: when he was in a temper, his cheeks puffed up and his eyes shrank
More example sentences
  • I puffed my cheeks out and blew a gust of air out my mouth in an attempt to get the annoying strand of black hair out my eyes.
  • He's got a real physical presence - his chest is puffed up and it feels like he's taking up too much space.
  • By the time the first fight broke out I was gripped - feathers were puffed up to ensure maximum hard-man appearance and then a very undignified battle ensued, involving lots of running jumps and flapping and pecking.
2.1 (be puffed up) Be conceited: he was never puffed up about his writing
More example sentences
  • Pride is viewed as a negative characteristic, a feeling of conceit or being puffed up with an arrogant superiority.
  • He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.
  • Canada is puffed up that we signed the Kyoto Protocol in the face of a big industry lobby.
3 [with object] Advertise with exaggerated or false praise: publishers have puffed the book on the grounds that it contains new discoveries
More example sentences
  • Sterne then wrote a letter puffing his work which he passed off as the spontaneous praise of the young singer, Catherine Fourmantel, then his mistress.
  • He has not been afraid to publish letters praising his own letters; What We've Lost is puffed in this month's magazine.
advertise, promote, give publicity to, publicize, push, recommend, commend, endorse, put in a good word for, beat the drum for
informal give a puff to, hype (up), plug


Middle English: imitative of the sound of a breath, perhaps from Old English pyf (noun), pyffan (verb).


in all one's puff

British informal In one’s whole life: did you ever see anything more pretentious in all your puff?
More example sentences
  • This has got to be one of the daftest ‘scientific’ studies I've ever come across in all my puff.
  • One week before the exam, you tell the pupil that never, in all your puff, have you ever heard such a lovely sound.
  • Said fitter is shaven-headed and short, sporting, for reasons best known to his girlfriend, serpent tattoos writhing down not one but both arms, but I have never in all my puff seen a dreamier-looking man.

puff and blow

Breathe in gasps during or after exertion: they trotted round corners, puffing and blowing
More example sentences
  • ‘No pecs, no sex,’ barks Pilates Pam, who must be pushing 60 and has the figure of an Olympic sprinter, as we puff and blow and our wobbly thighs tremble.
  • ‘The best thing for being sad,’ replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, ‘is to learn something.’
  • Either way, you have a good chance of running alongside pods of pilot whales as they surface, puff and blow, taking it in turns to keep a watchful eye on the people gazing from the boat.

Words that rhyme with puff

bluff, buff, chough, chuff, cuff, duff, enough, fluff, gruff, guff, huff, luff, rough, ruff, scruff, scuff, slough, snuff, stuff, Tough, tuff • handcuff • earmuff • powder

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