\ ˈdäf How to pronounce doff (audio) , ˈdȯf \
doffed; doffing; doffs

Definition of doff

transitive verb

1a : to remove (an article of wear) from the body
b : to take off (the hat) in greeting or as a sign of respect
2 : to rid oneself of : put aside
doff one's hat to or doff one's cap to
: to show respect to : salute

Doff vs Don

Time was, people talked about doffing and donning articles of clothing with about the same frequency. But in the mid-19th century the verb don became significantly more popular and left doff to flounder a bit in linguistic semi-obscurity. Doff and don have been a pair from the start: both date to the 14th century, with doff arising as a Middle English contraction of the phrase "to do off" and don as a contraction of "to do on." Shakespeare was among the first, as far as we know, to use the word as it's defined in the more general sense of "to rid oneself of" or "put aside." He has Juliet give voice to this sense when she says, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet. / … Romeo, doff thy name; / And for that name, which is no part of thee, / Take all myself."

Examples of doff in a Sentence

He doffed his cap as he introduced himself. They doffed their coats when they came inside.
Recent Examples on the Web At the beginning of the pandemic, nurses or techs would be stationed outside the COVID rooms to watch us don and doff the P.P.E. Rachel Pearson, The New Yorker, 22 Sep. 2021 So, many of the forthcoming players may yet line up on a baseline and doff their poorly-conceived collector’s hat to the crowd on the evening of July 13. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 5 July 2021 Two new studies are being hailed as proof that vaccinated people can doff masks and pod-hop worry-free. Megan Molteni, Wired, 25 Feb. 2021 Hospital workers were still learning how to don and doff protective equipment and familiarizing themselves with constantly changing protocols for avoiding infection. Elliott Woods, Wired, 17 May 2020 Another module teaches how to don and doff personal protective equipment, and how to adjust the settings on a mechanical ventilator. Gary Stix, Scientific American, 9 Apr. 2020 Time to doff that winter coat, and (temporarily) lose those mittens. Emily Sweeney,, 10 Jan. 2020 Faced with this new infection risk, many hospitals are scrambling to retrain workers in safety precautions, such as how to correctly don and doff personal protective equipment. Jenny Gold | Kaiser Health News, ABC News, 9 Mar. 2020 Pilots in flight uniforms doffed their hats and knelt, and flight attendants held bouquets of flowers. Andrew E. Kramer,, 19 Jan. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'doff.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of doff

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for doff

Middle English, from don to do + of off

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The first known use of doff was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Doff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for doff


\ ˈdäf How to pronounce doff (audio) , ˈdȯf \
doffed; doffing

Kids Definition of doff

: to take off He politely doffed his cap.

More from Merriam-Webster on doff

Nglish: Translation of doff for Spanish Speakers


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