Definitions

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

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A lap or fleece of fibrous material, such as the lap of waste cotton, which is taken from the comb of a combing-machine.
  • noun A cover into which both hands may be thrust in order to keep them warm.
  • noun The whitethroat, Sylvia cinerea. Macgillirray. Also muffet.
  • noun A cylinder of blown glass ready for slitting and spreading open in the flattening-furnace to form a plate.
  • noun A joiningtube or coupler for uniting two pipes end to end.
  • noun A simpleton; a stupid or weak-spirited person.
  • noun An inefficient apprentice craftsman.
  • noun 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.
  • 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Dutch mof, from Middle Dutch moffel, from Old French mofle, mitten, from Medieval Latin muffula, perhaps of Germanic origin.]

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

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Probably from Dutch mof ("muff, mitten").

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 An Autobiography

  • 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

Comments

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  • 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

  • You were right though, muffs are very cool.

    October 25, 2007

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

    October 25, 2007

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

    January 2, 2008

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

    January 15, 2013