Green’s Dictionary of Slang

huff n.

[SE huff, to puff, to blow up]

1. a blusterer, a bully.

[UK]Skelton Agenst Garnesche ii line 16: Huf, a galante, Garnesche, loke on your comely cors!
[UK]T. Preston Cambyses Three ruffians, Huff, Ruff, and Snuff.
[UK]G. Harvey Pierce’s Supererogation 137: Huff, Ruff, and Snuffe, the three tame ruffians of the Church.
[UK]H. Glapthorne Lady Mother III ii: Walke, walke, you and your Capain Huff to London.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 78: The Instruments in chief of a Bawds trade are an Hector or Huff which seems instead of the Gyant to defend her inchanted Castle from being violated.
[UK]Behn Rover V i: See how this—Huff becomes—this Dammy—flare— / Which they at home may act, because they dare, / But—must with prudent Caution do elsewhere.
‘Bully Whig’ in N. Thompson Choice Collection of 120 Loyal Songs 263: Tom once was Cock-a-hoop / Of all the Huffs in Town; / But now his Pride must stoop, / His Courage is pull'd down.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Huff a Bullying Fellow.
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 73: Every dunce of a quack is call’d a physician [...] every silly huff a captain.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK](con. early 17C) Sir W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 141: I remember the Huffs, the Muns, and the Tityre-tu’s by whom your grace’s ancestors and predecessors were advised. [Ibid.] 145: By spigot and barrel, / By bilbo and buff; /Thou art sworn to the quarrel / Of the blades of the huff.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.

2. a bad temper; usu. as in a huff.

[UK]Greene Second Part of Conny-Catching in Grosart (1881–3) X 101: Conny-catchers, those base excrements of dishonesty, they in their huffes report they have got one ([blank space]) I wil not bewray his name.
[UK]H. Porter Two Angry Women of Abington E: And as to me thou saist, to him I said, But in a greater huffe, and hotter bloud.
[UK]Etherege Man of Mode I i: Tax her with the next fop that comes into my head, and in a huff march away.
[UK]T. Shadwell Squire of Alsatia III i: If you were not the brother to my dearest friend, I know what my honour would prompt me to [Walks in a huff].
[UK] ‘Taylors Resolution to be Reveng’d of these Petticoat Press-Masters’ in Euing Broadside Ballads No. 4: Welsh Shone’s in a huff, said that’s not enough.
[UK]Farquhar Constant Couple II ii: I offer’d her fifty guineas, and she was in her airs presently, and flew away in a huff.
[UK]Swift letter v 5 Oct. in Journal to Stella (1901) 28: Now you are in a huff because I tell you this.
[UK] ‘The Wanton Virgins Frightened’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) I 223: Quoth the old Daddy, I was in a huff.
[UK]J. Gay Rehearsal at Goatham I x: The Emperor, you see, is in a Huff.
[UK]H. Howard Choice Spirits Museum 56: No longer we tremble when France in a Huff, Swears she’ll give poor England a damn’d Blow.
[UK]Smollett Humphrey Clinker (1925) I 140: He went away in a huff, at a minute’s warning.
[US] in F. Moore Songs and Ballads of the Amer. Revolution (1855) 263: Our brethren [...] Who quit their old friends in a huff.
[Ire] ‘The Coughing Old Man’ Irish Songster 2: To him then I turn’d my back in a huff.
[UK]Derby Mercury 11 Aug. 4/1: A rank Tyrant in Heart, / From Paris set out in a Huff / And most solemnly swore / [...] / He’d trim the poor Englishman’s Buff.
[US]J. Neal Brother Jonathan II 86: What a huff you’re at! I only axed a question.
[UK] ‘Randy Johnny!’ in Bang-Up Songster 9: In spite of all their huffs and cuffs, / He bedded every maid.
[UK]R. Barham ‘The Wedding-Day’ in Ingoldsby Legends (1847) 223: If any young man [...] goes off to sea in a huff, / Depend on’t, my friends, that young man is a Muff!
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown’s School-Days (1896) 270: ‘Well,’ said Tom, getting up in something as like a huff as he was capable of.
[UK]Mark Lemon Golden Fetters I 163: He went off in a huff, cussing and swearing.
[UK]R. Broughton Nancy II 92: I [...] stop talking in a huff.
[Ire]C.J. Kickham Knocknagow 348: Miss Grace was quite troubled to think that it was because he was ‘huffed’ by the way she ‘treated him’ that he left them so abruptly.
Greenock Advertiser 15 June 4/1: Jem Brady went off in a huff.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Thin Lips and False Teeth’ in Roderick (1972) 241: She flounced off in a huff.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 20 Jan. 1/1: Both [damsels] are mashed on the curly-haired cyclist [and] the unsuccessful donah had an attack of ‘huff’.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Stoush O’ Day’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 29: An’ narked, the sun, ’is backer, in a huff, / Sneaks outer sight, red in the face wiv rage.
[US]Dos Passos Three Soldiers 319: ‘We must know each other better,’ she said. ‘I like you for going off in a huff.’.
[UK]P. O’Donnell Islanders (1933) 98: It’s a quare ould grin he had on him, an’ be me sowl, Biddy, nobody noticed any huff on yerself.
[UK]M. Marshall Travels of Tramp-Royal 173: If you refuse they drive off in a huff, talking to themselves.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Capricorn (1964) 36: She went out in a huff taking the brats with her.
[Aus]Western Mail (Perth) 26 Aug. 3/1: I call him a ‘Yehudi’ (Jew). That is an insult to an Arab and he goes off in a huff.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 116: She’d gone off in such a high-wheeled huff.
[UK]J. Orton Diaries (1986) 17 Apr. 138: He rang off in a great huff.
[UK]A. Bleasdale Scully 69: I knew he’d be going off all in a huff.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 175: I play at being in the huff and swan off to get a paper.
[UK]A. Warner Sopranos 285: Manda juss did a big huff out.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 451: Ee went Sioned off in a huff befaw by callin er a racist cow.

3. a dodge or trick.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

4. see huffcap n.

In phrases

take (the) huff (v.)

to lose one’s temper, to take offence.

[UK]Morn. Post (London) 8 June 1/2: We want John Bull to take the huff.
[UK]J. Bell Jr. (ed.) Rhymes of Northern Bards 78: Your milliner’s spruce, not so apt to take huff.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 18: I’m [...] sorry that you take huff at an old friend.
[NZ]H. Thompson ‘Another Station Ballad’ in Ballads About Business and Back-Block Life 47: Ye’ll never tire of mutton, and ye’ll never take the huff.
[Aus]Western Champion (Qld) 12 Dec. 3/1: The barmaid was particularly haughty [...] She took the huff too just becos I leaned across the bar and whispered somethin’ in her pink ear.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl.
[UK]C. Brookmyre A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away 20: They didn’t want to get too fresh in case you took the huff.