\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Doff vs Don

Time was, people talked about doffing and donning articles of wear 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 coming from a phrase meaning "to do off" and don from one meaning "to do on." Shakespeare was first, as far as we know, to use the word as it's defined at sense 2. He put it in Juliet's mouth: "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 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, "‘You’re Not Alone’: How One Nurse Is Confronting the Pandemic," 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, "How to Think about COVID-19 like an M.D.," 9 Apr. 2020 Time to doff that winter coat, and (temporarily) lose those mittens. Emily Sweeney,, "Record-breaking warmth in the forecast for this weekend," 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, "Health care worker quarantines raise concerns amid coronavirus outbreak," 9 Mar. 2020 Pilots in flight uniforms doffed their hats and knelt, and flight attendants held bouquets of flowers. Andrew E. Kramer,, "Bodies of Ukrainians killed in Iran plane crash are returned home," 19 Jan. 2020 After his sixth and final frame, Verlander doffed his cap toward an adoring section just above the first-base dugout. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros win on Justin Verlander's career night," 28 Sep. 2019 Verlander doffed his cap to the adoring crowd, which remained in applause for about 30 seconds. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Justin Verlander joins 3,000-strikeout club," 28 Sep. 2019 Bumgarner doffed his helmet and waved it toward the fans. Henry Schulman,, "Giants’ Madison Bumgarner appears in Bruce Bochy’s final game — as a hitter," 29 Sep. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about doff

Time Traveler for doff

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about doff

Statistics for doff

Cite this Entry

“Doff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for doff


How to pronounce doff (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of doff

old-fashioned : to take off or remove (a hat or a piece of clothing)


\ 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for doff

Nglish: Translation of doff for Spanish Speakers

Comments on doff

What made you want to look up doff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!