Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A steep headland, promontory, riverbank, or cliff.
  • adjective Having or showing a rough and blunt but not unkind manner.
  • adjective Having a broad, steep front.
  • intransitive verb To engage in a false display of confidence or aggression in order to deceive or intimidate someone.
  • intransitive verb To make a display of aggression, as by charging or baring the teeth, as a means of intimidating another animal.
  • intransitive verb To try to mislead opponents in a card game by heavy betting on a poor hand or by little or no betting on a good one.
  • intransitive verb To deceive or intimidate (someone) by a false display of confidence or aggression.
  • intransitive verb To try to mislead (opponents) in a card game by heavy betting on a poor hand or by little or no betting on a good one.
  • intransitive verb To start but not carry out (an action) as a means of deceiving or intimidating another.
  • noun The act or practice of bluffing.
  • idiom (bluff (one's) way) To deceive someone or accomplish something by making a false display.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An isolated group of trees on the prairie.
  • Having or presenting a broad, flattened front, as a ship with broad bows and nearly vertical stem.
  • Rising abruptly and boldly, as a high bank on the shore of a sea, lake, or river; presenting a bold and nearly perpendicular front, as a coastline or a range of low hills.
  • Broad and full: specially applied to a full countenance, indicative of frankness and good humor.
  • Hence Rough and hearty; plain and frank; somewhat abrupt and unconventional in manner.
  • Blustering; pompous; surly; churlish.
  • noun A hill, bank, or headland with a steep, broad face; a high bank presenting a steep or nearly perpendicular front, especially one on the shore of a sea, lake, or river; also, a steep rise between bottom-land and a higher table-land.
  • noun A blinker for a horse.
  • noun A game at cards; poker.
  • noun The act of deceiving or influencing, as in the game of poker, by a show of confident assurance and boastful betting or language; hence, language or demeanor intended to blind, frighten, or daunt an opponent in anything.
  • To blindfold or hoodwink.
  • In the game of poker, to deceive or impose upon (an opponent) by betting heavily on a worthless hand, or by acting in such a way as to cause the other players to believe that one's hand is stronger than it really is, in order to make them throw up their cards or stay out of the betting.
  • Hence To daunt or deter from the accomplishment of some design by boastful language or demeanor; repulse or frighten off by assuming a bold front, or by a make-believe show of resources, strength, etc.: frequently followed by off: as, to bluff off a dun.
  • In the game of poker, to bet heavily and with an air of confident assurance on a poor hand, in order to deceive an opponent and cause him to throw up his cards.
  • Hence To assume a bold, boastful front, so as to hoodwink an opponent as to one's real resources, strength, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb (Poker), United States To deter (an opponent) from taking the risk of betting on his hand of cards, as the bluffer does by betting heavily on his own hand although it may be of less value.
  • transitive verb colloq. To frighten or deter from accomplishing a purpose by making a show of confidence in one's strength or resources.
  • adjective Having a broad, flattened front.
  • adjective Rising steeply with a flat or rounded front.
  • adjective Surly; churlish; gruff; rough.
  • adjective Abrupt; roughly frank; unceremonious; blunt; brusque.
  • noun A high, steep bank, as by a river or the sea, or beside a ravine or plain; a cliff with a broad face.
  • noun An act of bluffing; an expression of self-confidence for the purpose of intimidation; braggadocio.
  • noun U.S. A game at cards; poker.
  • intransitive verb To act as in the game of bluff.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A high, steep bank, as by a river or the sea, or beside a ravine or plain; a cliff with a broad face.
  • noun Canadian Prairies A small wood or stand of trees, typically poplar or willow.
  • adjective Having a broad, flattened front; as, the bluff bows of a ship.
  • adjective Rising steeply with a flat or rounded front.
  • adjective Surly; churlish; gruff; rough.
  • adjective Abrupt; roughly frank; unceremonious; blunt; brusque; as, a bluff answer; a bluff manner of talking; a bluff sea captain.
  • noun An act of bluffing; an expression of self-confidence for the purpose of intimidation; braggadocio; as, that is only bluff, or a bluff.
  • noun poker An attempt to represent yourself as holding a stronger hand than you do.
  • verb To make a bluff.
  • verb To scare with a false show of strength.

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

  • adjective bluntly direct and outspoken but good-natured
  • noun pretense that your position is stronger than it really is
  • adjective very steep; having a prominent and almost vertical front
  • verb deceive an opponent by a bold bet on an inferior hand with the result that the opponent withdraws a winning hand

Etymologies

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

[Probably from obsolete Dutch blaf or Middle Low German blaff, broad.]

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

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Dutch bluffen ("brag") or bluf ("bragging").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Related to Middle Low German blaff, "smooth".

Examples

  • Well, the police are happy they've worked out the bluff but they didn't think as far as a _double _bluff.

    Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

  • As the term bluff may not be understood, an explanation will render the application more intelligible.

    Travels in the Interior of America, in the Years 1809, 1810, and 1811

  • The target of their bluff is the Iranian government, and the most effective warnings would be discreet and back-channel.

    The Nuclear Power Beside Iraq

  • The target of their bluff is the Iranian government, and the most effective warnings would be discreet and back-channel.

    The Nuclear Power Beside Iraq

  • “I assume you were playing what you call a bluff when you said you had already attacked the Kauld homeworld?”

    Thin Air

  • “I assume you were playing what you call a bluff when you said you had already attacked the Kauld homeworld?”

    Thin Air

  • "So I was jest puttin 'what you call bluff on record, case anything happened."

    The Ridin' Kid from Powder River

  • He's one of the old type -- a seaman first of all -- and what we call bluff, and you call bounce, has only one effect upon men of his kind.

    Masters of the Wheat-Lands

  • He's one of the old type -- a seaman first of all -- and what we call bluff, and you call bounce, has only one effect upon men of his kind.

    Hawtrey's Deputy

  • The word "bluff," which may derive from the Dutch some say German word bluffen meaning "to boast," was an early name for the game of poker itself.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

Comments

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  • "'People started noticing stuff eroding out of the bluff,' she recalls, 'and I got called out, along with the police, the real estate people and so on.

    'It was very clearly an archaeological burial. And the bluff was collapsing quickly, so we just got the contents out.'

    The bluff lies virtually at the end of the Americas, on a narrow, hooked spit projecting northwards from Barrow. It marks the join of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, and is prey to the temperamental vagaries of both."

    - Richard Black, 'Bodies Point To Alaska's Past', BBC website 31 Dec 2007.

    January 1, 2008

  • I love the mouthfeel of this word.

    Bluff bluff bluff bluff bluff!

    It's one of those words that sounds stranger the more you say it.

    February 4, 2009

  • Plinth. :-)

    February 4, 2009

  • Plinth!

    February 4, 2009

  • Plinth.

    February 5, 2009

  • I love this word! It always reminds me of clouds and marshmellows!

    February 6, 2010

  • Hey, maybe that's what clouds in coffee are made of. Marshmallows. Or dreams, of course.

    February 6, 2010