\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

Synonyms for puff

Synonyms: Verb

blow, gasp, heave, hyperventilate, pant, wheeze

Synonyms: Noun

air, breath, breeze, waft, zephyr

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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

Big Tobacco discovered decades ago that freebase nicotine makes puffing on a cigar much harsher than inhaling cigarette smoke. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Juul’s nicotine salts are dominating the market — and other companies want in," 21 Nov. 2018 That could be easily explained by spouses sharing the same household and lifestyle: eating the same healthy diet or puffing on cigarettes together. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Genetics play less of a role in lifespan than we thought," 8 Nov. 2018 Mimic the hands of Hollywood’s most in-demand facialists with these sculpting tools that contour cheekbones, massage and lift heavy eyebrows, and de-puff the eye area. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "9 High-Tech Facial Tools to Up Your Beauty Game This Season," 15 Sep. 2018 On a warm afternoon this week, one puffed out his black-and-white throat and bellowed. Jan Hefler, Philly.com, "Endangered penguins splash it up in new digs at Camden's Adventure Aquarium," 16 May 2018 Bake in preheated oven until a knife inserted into center comes out clean and pudding has puffed up and appears set, 45 to 50 minutes. Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "2018 farmers markets in Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin," 1 May 2018 The Padres, however, can puff their chests out a bit over the fact that the publications that specialize in prospecting are in agreement: San Diego’s system is in really good shape. Jeff Sanders, sandiegouniontribune.com, "MLB Pipeline rates Padres' system best in baseball," 2 Mar. 2018 At dinner that night, on the balcony of an Italian steak house, Sapp is puffing on a joint again, taking in the view. Tim Rohan, SI.com, "Strip Clubs, CTE Talk and a CBD Sales Pitch: A Weekend Inside Warren Sapp’s World," 29 Jan. 2018 Turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes or until it is puffed and lightly browned. Sheryl Julian, BostonGlobe.com, "Recipe: Irish cooks came to this country knowing how to make brown bread with their eyes closed," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Beauty influencer Jackie Aina wears her natural bronde curls in a puff. Kelsi Zimmerman, Allure, "21 Bronde Hair Ideas That Look Amazing on Everyone," 7 Oct. 2018 These would then collide with each other and vanish in a puff of gamma ray smoke. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Gamma ray evidence for dark matter outshone by a flock of pulsars," 10 Aug. 2018 One of springtime’s earliest bloomers is Cornelian-cherry dogwood (Cornus mas), with puffs of bright yellow flowers on a rounded small tree. Beth Botts, chicagotribune.com, "Classic dogwood likely won't survive in Chicago yards, but others will," 4 Apr. 2018 Go, and try something new—or, in this case, something old: From 1908: Chestnut-Custard Pie To make thoroughly good puff paste wash one pound of butter in ice water. Marley Marius, Vogue, "7 Alternative Thanksgiving Desserts from the Vogue Archive," 16 Nov. 2018 One to two puffs was always enough to reduce my wheezing. Kate Gardner, SELF, "I Thought I Could Handle My Asthma Attacks, Until I Ended Up in the ER," 5 Sep. 2018 Save room for a dessert of loukoumades: little honey-rich pastry puffs traditionally awarded to Olympic winners in ancient Greece. Stephanie Burt, Condé Nast Traveler, "28 Best Restaurants in Charleston," 2 May 2018 Meaty bits of tuna, buttery escolar, rich salmon, and fleshy striped bass bump up against creamy chunks of avocado, the crunch of tiny rice puffs, and the pop-pop of two kinds of fish roe: salty orange tobiko and sweeter red smelt eggs. Craig Laban, Philly.com, "At Kisso Sushi Bar, chef's special is special," 19 Mar. 2018 Her sister-in-law, Duchess Kate wore a V-neck dress with puff sleeves that fashion trackers at What Kate Wore identified as being from Alexander McQueen, her go-to fashion house. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY, "Duchess Meghan wears olive Ralph Lauren dress to baptism of Prince Louis," 9 July 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

5 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on puff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with puff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puff

Spanish Central: Translation of puff

Nglish: Translation of puff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of puff for Arabic Speakers

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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