puff

1 of 3

verb

puffed; puffing; puffs

intransitive verb

1
a(1)
: to blow in short gusts
(2)
: to exhale forcibly
b
: to breathe hard : pant
c
: to emit small whiffs or clouds (as of smoke) often as an accompaniment to vigorous action
puff at a pipe
2
: to speak or act in a scornful, conceited, or exaggerated manner
3
a
: to become distended : swell
usually used with up
b
: to open or appear in or as if in a puff
4
: to form a chromosomal puff

transitive verb

1
a
: to emit, propel, blow, or expel by or as if by puffs : waft
b
: to draw on (a cigar, cigarette, pipe, etc.) with intermittent exhalations of smoke
2
a
: to distend with or as if with air or gas : inflate
b
: to make proud or conceited : elate
c(1)
: to praise extravagantly and usually with exaggeration
authors puffing their own work
(2)

puff

2 of 3

noun

1
a
: an act or instance of puffing : whiff
b
: a slight explosive sound accompanying a puff
c
: a perceptible cloud or aura emitted in a puff
2
: a light round hollow pastry
3
a
: a slight swelling : protuberance
b
: a fluffy mass: such as
(1)
(2)
: a small fluffy pad for applying cosmetic powder
(3)
: a soft loose roll of hair
(4)
: a quilted bed covering
4
: a commendatory or promotional notice or review
5
: an enlarged region of a chromosome that is associated with intensely active genes involved in RNA synthesis

puff

3 of 3

adjective

: of, relating to, or designed for promotion or flattery
a puff piece in the paper

Examples of puff in a Sentence

Verb She sat on the porch puffing on a cigarette. The chimney puffed white smoke into the sky. We watched the train puff away on its journey west. He was puffing and panting from running. The bikers puffed up the hill. Noun He let me have a puff off his pipe. She took two puffs on her inhaler before going for a run. puffs filled with cream cheese and apricot jam See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The meadowlark sings with commitment, tossing the head back, puffing its chest and opening its long beak to let go with its booming melodies that include as many as 10 different tunes. Ernie Cowan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Feb. 2024 After the cookies puff up again, 2 to 3 minutes later, repeat lifting and dropping the pan. Jill Silva, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 Like the feather that Radin produces from his pocket, which the actors struggle to keep aloft — all stumbling around and puffing at it from underneath — Krymov’s theater, in its truest form, is astonishingly light and yet full of gravity. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 25 Jan. 2024 Davis puffed up his cheeks and blew the air out slowly. Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times, 23 Jan. 2024 During this whole time, the star will be puffing up, pushing its outer layer outwards —against the force of gravity that pulls it back. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 10 Jan. 2024 Working in batches and flipping once, cook the dough circles until lightly puffed and bubbled and lightly browned on both sides, 4–6 minutes. Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater, Saveur, 22 Nov. 2023 To prevent the filling from puffing and pushing out the walls of the tart during baking, it’s baked in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Claire Saffitz, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 As the star turns to other fuel sources and loses mass, its core gets hotter, and its atmosphere puffs up over millions of years. Quanta Magazine, 20 Dec. 2023
Noun
These puffs are flavored with Gruyere, dry mustard, and cayenne. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 15 Feb. 2024 Also on the list: bite-sized cheesecake balls, crispy rice puffs held together by marshmallows and mini chocolate chip cookies. Brianna Taylor, Sacramento Bee, 6 Feb. 2024 But the anecdotes swapped between swigs of Busch beer, puffs of cigar smoke and ribbons of fragrant apple wood emanating from a gleaming black smoker reveal the revelers are inextricably bound by a narrative considered sacred in these parts: barbecue. Kimberly Winter Stern, Kansas City Star, 24 Jan. 2024 There’s a mechanical grind, a puff of smoke and then a rush of laughter as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, caked in orange makeup, steps out of a tanning booth. Itay Stern, Washington Post, 16 Jan. 2024 One after another, three gigantic puffs and then dumped in the ashtray. Corbin Smith, Rolling Stone, 13 Jan. 2024 Around 100 hits equals ten cigarettes, meaning one cigarette is about ten puffs. Sponsored Content, The Mercury News, 10 Jan. 2024 It’s made with a baffle box construction, which allows the fill to create little puffs in the center. Andrea Wurzburger, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 Nov. 2023 Cheese & Crackers Herbes de Provence Triangles Puff pastry doesn’t keep its flaky texture when it’s trapped in a foil bag, so these triangular pillow puffs were somewhat crisp, with not enough salt. Alex Beggs, Bon Appétit, 23 Jan. 2024
Adjective
This gorgeous stark white satin-y sheen blazer with puff sleeves featured a sophisticated double button closure. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 29 Jan. 2024 TikTok is full of videos capturing the way Gracie sparks wide-eyed reactions in children, especially Black children, with her rich brown skin, sparkling eyes and puff pigtails. Bethonie Butler, Washington Post, 3 Jan. 2024 To train the crows to use the stones, the researchers started by making a cheese puff trail to the tube, incentivizing the crow’s curiosity. Kenna Hughes-Castleberry, Ars Technica, 14 Dec. 2023 Cecilie Bahnsen puff sleeve ruffle top Cecilie Bahnsen is known for its flowing, feminine silhouettes, and this top is no exception. Porter Simmons, Vogue, 24 Nov. 2023 Brunson’s gown, a simple sparkly silver dress with mesh panels on the sides and a crisscross neckline, complemented Ralph’s more dramatic black dress with a lime green accent on her puff sleeves down to a train, styled by Jessica Paster. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 7 Jan. 2024 Think miniskirts, bows, pink puff sleeves, delicate white broderie anglaise tops. Sarah Spellings, Vogue, 12 Dec. 2023 The long puff lantern sleeves add an element of drama, while the sheer mesh material creates an alluring, edgy look. Mia Meltzer, Rolling Stone, 5 Dec. 2023 This duo pairs a badass puff long-sleeve knit cropped top with a bodycon skirt. Poppy Morgan, Rolling Stone, 21 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'puff.' 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

Verb

Middle English, from Old English pyffan, of imitative origin

First Known Use

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a(1)

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1943, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of puff was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near puff

Cite this Entry

“Puff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puff. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

puff

1 of 3 verb
1
a
: to blow in short gusts
b
: to breathe hard : pant
puffed as we climbed the hill
c
: to blow by or as if by puffs
the locomotive puffed smoke
2
: to swell or become swollen with or as if with air
the sprained ankle puffed up
puffed up with pride

puff

2 of 3 noun
1
a
: an act or instance of puffing : whiff, gust
b
: a cloud (as of smoke or steam) given off in a puff
2
: a light pastry that rises high in baking
3
a
: a slight swelling
b
: a small fluffy pad for applying cosmetic powder
c
: a quilted bed covering
puffiness noun
puffy adjective

puff

3 of 3 adjective
: of, relating to, or designed for promotion or flattery
a puff piece

Medical Definition

puff

1 of 2 intransitive verb
1
: to become distended : swell
usually used with up
2
: to form a chromosomal puff

puff

2 of 2 noun
1
2
: an enlarged region of a chromosome that is associated with intensely active genes involved in RNA synthesis

Legal Definition

puff

noun
1
: an act or instance of puffing
2
: a statement that amounts to puffing
whether the seller's statement was a “puff” or an express warrantyJ. J. White and R. S. Summers

More from Merriam-Webster on puff

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