Etymology: Middle English, from Old English pyffan, of imitative origin
Date: before 12th century
(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 3. a. 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 1. a. to emit, propel, blow, or expel by or as if by puffs ; waft b. to draw on (as a cigar, cigarette, or pipe) with intermittent exhalations of smoke 2. a. 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 II. noun Date: 13th century 1. a. 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 1a 2. a light round hollow pastry 3. a. a slight swelling ; protuberance b. a fluffy mass: as (1) pouf 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 • puffiness noun • puffy adjective III. adjective Date: 1943 of, relating to, or designed for promotion or flattery <a puff piece in the paper>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.