\ˈpəf \
puffed; puffing; puffs

Definition of puff 

(Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a(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

3a : 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

1a : 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

2a : 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) : advertise



Definition of puff (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : 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

d : draw sense 1a

2 : a light round hollow pastry

3a : a slight swelling : protuberance

b : a fluffy mass: such as

(1) : pouf sense 2

(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



Definition of puff (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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Other Words from puff


puffiness \ˈpə-fē-nəs \ noun
puffy \ˈpə-fē \ adjective

Examples of puff in a Sentence


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.


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The album—a lean and loud thing; puffed up but never obnoxiously self-important—descends as the omega of Beyoncé and Jay-Z's years-long saga of woe and redemption. Jason Parham, WIRED, "Beyoncé and Jay-Z's Everything Is Love Marks a New Step in the Album's Evolution," 19 June 2018 Grill fish until the other side is lightly charred and skin is puffed, 8–12 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Andy Baraghani, Bon Appetit, "Grilled Spiced Snapper with Mango and Red Onion Salad," 28 May 2018 One doctor puffed out his cheeks, looking perplexed, while another leaned close to her screen, eyes squinting. Robyn Dixon, latimes.com, "China plans to dominate AI, with a vanguard of robotic doctors like 'Biomind'," 6 July 2018 With chests in a puffed up in a Superman display of confidence, a handful of greater sage-grouse glide across the lek, periodically punching the sky with a high-pitched hiccup. Story Hinckley, The Christian Science Monitor, "Group effort rules the roost in Wyoming, then Washington intervenes," 10 July 2018 The six men puffing up their throats like angry birds were not dancers. Roslyn Sulcas, New York Times, "Harry Potter Doesn’t Dance. But He Sure Can Move.," 10 July 2018 Russian substitute Aleksandr Erokhin put a header over the bar and Croatia huffed and puffed without asking further questions of Akinfeev. SI.com, "Russia 2-2 Croatia (3-4 Pens): Heartbreak for Hosts as Croatia Secure Last 4 Clash Against England," 7 July 2018 Pour the wild rice into the oil and turn off the heat (the rice will start puffing immediately). Sarah Fritsche, SFChronicle.com, "Recipe: The Shed’s Cabbage Salad With Nam Prik, Pea Shoots, Puffed Rice & Radish," 3 July 2018 Vaughn was the jittery mayor of the fictional resort of Amity, puffing cigarettes, sporting amazing polyester jackets, telling Chief Brody and Hooper to chill on all the killer-shark talk. Dan Rodricks, baltimoresun.com, "Rodricks: Wind resistance in Ocean City is ludicrous," 12 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sometimes getting the best puff or updo requires the extra grip of a stringent brush. Jessica Cruel, SELF, "5 Edge Control Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Baby Hairs," 6 July 2018 Here, the plump puffs of ravioli are filled with a delectable mélange of beef, ricotta and pecorino Romano, then are coated in bread crumbs, fried and served steaming hot with a tangy marinara. Kate Silver, chicagotribune.com, "You're going where? St. Louis," 19 June 2018 Over the next several days, their progress is marked by the phantasmic puffs of white powder that rise from the valley’s black spruce, dust kicked up as the RAB jackhammers into the ground and busts up everything in its path. Genesee Keevil, Popular Mechanics, "The Rush: What the World's Greatest Gold Prospector Knows," 17 May 2018 The Cut spoke with Gandy about the smell of cheese puffs, classic Jaguars, and burnt hair. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "David Gandy Loves the Smell of Petrol, Figs, and Dogs," 9 July 2018 Late Monday, a couple puffs of smoke materialized, two reports identifying the Yankees as entering the mix for Baltimore’s once-in-a-generation shortstop. David Murphy, Philly.com, "Second thoughts about the Phillies and Manny Machado | David Murphy," 11 July 2018 In a scene reminiscent of two gigantic TV wrestlers grappling for holds, the prehistoric beasts grunt, puff and ham it up for all the world like Gorgeous George and Man Mountain Dean. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "'King Kong vs. Godzilla': THR's 1963 Review," 26 June 2018 Static electricity on puffs of cotton to raise the fuzzy surface of a flower. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Unseen Oceans: How the American Museum of Natural History Builds a New Exhibit," 21 June 2018 My chest chases me to have a puff and I'm then forced to make a 'pill'. Matthew Diebel, USA TODAY, "Believed to be 114, South Africa's Fredie Blom thinks it's maybe time to give up smoking," 30 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of puff


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


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


1943, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for puff


Middle English, from Old English pyffan, of imitative origin

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Statistics for puff

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for puff

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

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More Definitions for puff



English Language Learners Definition of puff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to breathe smoke from a cigarette, pipe, etc., in and out of the lungs

: to produce or send out small clouds of smoke or steam

: to move in a particular direction while producing clouds of steam or smoke



English Language Learners Definition of puff (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of breathing something (such as smoke or medicine) into your lungs

: a movement of gas, smoke, or air that can be seen or felt

: a light, round pastry that contains a sweet filling


\ˈpəf \
puffed; puffing

Kids Definition of puff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to breathe hard : pant

2 : to send out small whiffs or clouds (as of smoke)

3 : to swell up or become swollen with or as if with air The injured eye puffed up. I puffed out my cheeks.



Kids Definition of puff (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a quick short instance of sending or letting out air, smoke, or steam We could see puffs from a locomotive.

2 : a slight swelling

3 : a soft pad for putting powder on the skin

4 : a light pastry

\ˈpəf \

Medical Definition of puff 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to become distended : swell usually used with up

2 : to form a chromosomal puff



Medical Definition of puff (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : windgall

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

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Legal Definition of puff 

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 warranty— J. J. White and R. S. Summers

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Comments on puff

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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