bluff

1 of 4

adjective

1
a
: having a broad flattened front
a ship with bluff bows
b
: rising steeply with a broad flat or rounded front
the bluff banks of the river
2
: good-naturedly frank and outspoken
a bluff, easygoing fellow
bluffly adverb
bluffness noun

bluff

2 of 4

noun (1)

: a high steep bank : cliff
stood on the bluffs overlooking the ocean

bluff

3 of 4

verb

bluffed; bluffing; bluffs

transitive verb

1
a
: to deter or frighten by pretense or a mere show of strength
bluffed them into surrendering
b
: deceive
bluff her way in without a ticket
c
: feign
The catcher bluffed a throw to first.
2
card games : to deceive (an opponent) by a bold bet on an inferior hand
was bluffed out of a winning hand

intransitive verb

: to bluff someone : act deceptively
You can tell when he is bluffing.
bluffer noun

bluff

4 of 4

noun (2)

1
a
: a false threat or claim intended to deter or deceive someone : an act or instance of bluffing (see bluff entry 3)
Having … nothing to support his pretensions he decided to put up a bluff.Sherwood Anderson
His boss called his bluff.
b
: the practice of bluffing
The agreement had been reached, after weeks of bluff and haggle …Time
2
: one who bluffs
Choose the Right Synonym for bluff

bluff, blunt, brusque, curt, crusty, gruff mean abrupt and unceremonious in speech and manner.

bluff connotes good-natured outspokenness and unconventionality.

a bluff manner

blunt suggests directness of expression in disregard of others' feelings.

a blunt appraisal

brusque applies to a sharpness or ungraciousness.

a brusque response

curt implies disconcerting shortness or rude conciseness.

a curt command

crusty suggests a harsh or surly manner sometimes concealing an inner kindliness.

a crusty exterior

gruff suggests a hoarse or husky speech which may imply bad temper but more often implies embarrassment or shyness.

puts on a gruff pose

Examples of bluff in a Sentence

Adjective he's a bluff but good-hearted teacher Noun (1) fossils embedded in a stone bluff that date from the Jurassic period Verb She says someone else has made her a higher offer, but I think she's bluffing. Don't listen to his threats—he's just bluffing you. I bluffed my way through the interview.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
One day in 2010, an e-mail from Steve Wentzel, the Zimbabwean tycoon, arrived in the in-box of one of South Pole’s founders—a tall, bluff German man named Christian Dannecker. Heidi Blake, The New Yorker, 16 Oct. 2023 Though the Explorer majors much more on practicality, somehow Ford has managed to turn a fairly bluff front-end styling and generally boxy silhouette familiar to properly sensible family SUV into an attractive design. WIRED, 21 Mar. 2023 Patrick’s Point, a bluff-top park 30 miles north of Eureka overlooking Agate Beach and the Pacific Ocean, will now be known as Sue-meg State Park. Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 Oct. 2021 The current record still belongs to a bluff-top compound with two homes and 3.5 acres that traded hands in 2017 in an off-market deal for $55 million. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, 11 Sep. 2020 See all Example Sentences for bluff 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bluff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective and Noun (1)

obsolete Dutch blaf flat; akin to Middle Low German blaff smooth

Verb and Noun (2)

probably from Dutch bluffen to boast, play a kind of card game

First Known Use

Adjective

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (1)

1666, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1791, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun (2)

1845, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of bluff was in 1627

Dictionary Entries Near bluff

Cite this Entry

“Bluff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bluff. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

bluff

1 of 4 adjective
1
: rising steeply with a broad front
a bluff coastline
2
: frank and outspoken in a good-natured manner
bluffly adverb
bluffness noun

bluff

2 of 4 noun
: a high steep bank : cliff

bluff

3 of 4 verb
: to deceive or frighten by pretending to have strength or confidence that one does not really have
bluffer noun

bluff

4 of 4 noun
1
a
: an act or instance of bluffing
b
: the practice of bluffing
2
: one who bluffs
Etymology

Adjective

from an obsolete Dutch word blaf "flat"

Verb

probably from Dutch bluffen "to boast"

Geographical Definition

Bluff

geographical name

town in southern New Zealand

Note: Bluff serves as the port for the city of Invercargill.

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