Definitions

from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To perform or handle clumsily; bungle. See Synonyms at botch.
  • transitive v. Sports To fail to make (a catch).
  • intransitive v. To perform an act clumsily.
  • n. A clumsy or bungled action.
  • n. Sports A failure to make a catch.
  • n. A small cylindrical fur or cloth cover, open at both ends, in which the hands are placed for warmth.
  • n. A cluster of feathers on the side of the face of certain breeds of fowl.
  • n. Vulgar Slang The vulva.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A piece of fur or cloth, usually with open ends, used for keeping the hands warm.
  • n. Female pubic hair; the vulva.
  • n. A blown cylinder of glass which is afterward flattened out to make a sheet.
  • n. The feathers sticking out from both sides of the face under the beak of some birds.
  • n. An error, a mistake.
  • n. shortened form of muffin.
  • v. In American football, to drop or mishandle the ball, especially during a punt or kick-off.
  • v. By extension, to mishandle any situation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A soft cover of cylindrical form, usually of fur, worn by women to shield the hands from cold.
  • n. A short hollow cylinder surrounding an object, as a pipe.
  • n. A blown cylinder of glass which is afterward flattened out to make a sheet.
  • n. A stupid fellow; a poor-spirited person.
  • n. A failure to hold a ball when once in the hands.
  • n. The whitethroat.
  • transitive v. To handle awkwardly; to fumble; to fail to hold, as a ball, in catching it.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To mumble; speak indistinctly.
  • To perform clumsily or badly; fail, as in some attempt in playing a game; muddle; make a mess of.
  • Specifically, in ball-playing, to fail to hold (the ball) when it comes into the hands.
  • To act clumsily or badly, especially in playing a game, as in receiving a ball into one's hands and failing to hold it.
  • n. A cover into which both hands may be thrust in order to keep them warm.
  • n. The whitethroat, Sylvia cinerea. Macgillirray. Also muffet.
  • n. A cylinder of blown glass ready for slitting and spreading open in the flattening-furnace to form a plate.
  • n. A joiningtube or coupler for uniting two pipes end to end.
  • n. A simpleton; a stupid or weak-spirited person.
  • n. An inefficient apprentice craftsman.
  • n. Anything done in a clumsy or bungling fashion, as a bad stroke of play in a game of ball; specifically, in ball-playing, failure to hold a ball that comes into one's hands.
  • n. A lap or fleece of fibrous material, such as the lap of waste cotton, which is taken from the comb of a combing-machine.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. fail to catch, as of a ball
  • n. a warm tubular covering for the hands
  • v. make a mess of, destroy or ruin
  • n. (sports) dropping the ball

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
Dutch mof, from Middle Dutch moffel, from Old French mofle, mitten, from Medieval Latin muffula, perhaps of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Probably from Dutch mofĀ ("muff, mitten"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • George Romney (1781, discussed above), where her small muff is centered below her sheathed bosom and her modestly hidden hands suggest another story.

    Framing Romantic Dress: Mary Robinson, Princess Caroline and the Sex/Text

  • Yes, horrid cold; but my muff is so big, I won't carry it.

    An Old-Fashioned Girl

  • Of him whose creation is sufficient to render the year 1849 memorable in the annals of the land much has ere now been written -- that type of a well-to-do British householder, delightful for his follies and endearing by his pluck, something of a lunatic, it must be admitted, yet more of a sportsman, and most of all a "muff" -- _Punch's_ "simple-minded Philistine paterfamilias."

    The History of "Punch"

  • Millikin, his brother-inlaw, there was not much sympathy: for he pronounced Mr. Milliken to be what is called a muff; and had never been familiar with his elder sister Lavinia, of whose poems he had

    The Kickleburys on the Rhine

  • The putting on of the muff was the most humiliating incident of my life.

    A Mind That Found Itself

  • In fact, Ivy is what Japs calls a muff and a stick. '

    Beechcroft at Rockstone

  • The muff is a boy who from natural disposition, or early training, or both, is mild, diffident, and gentle.

    The Gorilla Hunters

  • Between him and Millikin, his brother-in-law, there was not much sympathy: for he pronounced Mr. Milliken to be what is called a muff; and had never been familiar with his elder sister Lavinia, of whose poems he had a mean opinion, and who used to tease and worry him by teaching him French, and telling tales of him to his mamma, when he was a schoolboy home for the holidays.

    The Christmas Books of Mr. M.A. Titmarsh

  • Sure, the nickname was probably assigned long before "muff" acquired its current connotations, but I assumed the Muffys would have all quietly dropped it long ago in favor of something a little less, um, gynecological - Buffy, or Cookie, or something.

    Muffy

  • He was a quarter of a mile off when the leading bull, raising his head, snuffed the tainted air, and with tail erect scampered off with his companions, leaving me showering imprecations on the head of the "muff" who had spoiled my sport, and supper.

    Wild Life in the Rocky Mountains

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  • A blown cylinder of glass which is afterward flattened out to make a sheet. --from the definitions.

    January 15, 2013

  • A village in County Donegal, Ireland. Each summer, usually during the first week in August, the village celebrates Muff Festival.

    January 2, 2008

  • Also a verb to describe dropping the football when it was punted to you.

    October 25, 2007

  • You were right though, muffs are very cool.

    October 25, 2007

  • As a child, I always thought muffs were among the coolest things in the Sears Roebuck catalog. Hardly necessary in our climate, however.

    July 12, 2007