Green’s Dictionary of Slang

huff v.

1. to act arrogantly, aggressively [SE huff, to bully, to hector; note 1910s–20s milit. jargon huff, to kill].

[UK] ‘The British Spy’ Collection of Eng. Ballads 86: They have so much got in fashion of taking of snuff / If you ask for a ha’peth shop-keepers will huff.

(a) to swagger.

[UK]Jonson Every Man In his Humour I i: And still you huff it, with a kind of carriage As void of wit, as of humanity.
[UK]Wycherley Love in a Wood II i: Coyness in a woman is as little sign of true modesty, as huffing in a man, is of true courage.
Roscommon ‘Tom Ross’s Ghost to his Pupil’ Works of Rochester, Roscommon, Dorset (1720) 8: Shame of my Life, Disturber of my Tomb [...] Huffing to Cowards, fawning to the Brave.
[UK]Behn False Count Epilogue: Of the faux Braves I’ve had some little trial, / There’s nothing gives ’em credit but denyal; / As when a Coward will pretend to Huffing. / Offer to fight, away sneaks Bully-Ruffin.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy II 9: The sneaking Clown all intriguing does Marr, / Like Apprentices Huffing and Ranting.
[UK]Swift ‘A New Song’ in Chalmers Eng. Poets XI (1810) 446/2: If he goes to the baker, the baker will huff, And twenty-pence have for a two-penny loaf.
[UK]W. Somerville ‘The Officious Messenger’ in Chalmers Eng. Poets (1810) XI 227/1: Her ladyship began to huff [...] ‘Tis wrong to make your kennel here – Dogs in their place are good I own – But in the parlour – foh! – be gone.’.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

(b) to scold, to reprove, to bully.

[UK] ‘The Batchelor’s Ballad’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1891) VII:2 335: But befoe I’le be rul’d, and longer, or fool’d / By a woman, I’le huff her.
[UK] ‘Song of the Wives’ in Wilson Court Satires of the Restoration (1976) 112: We poor innocent virgins have reason to huff.
[UK]Cibber Double Gallant III i: Why must you huff your Husband, Hussy?
[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 183: He huff’d me, and said, Sure, Mr Hurley had not made my Lady so mean, as to trade with cits with their paultry notes.
[UK]Defoe Hist. of Colonel Jack (1723) 33: What’s that to you, said I, how ragg’d I am [...] I have Money to pay for it; but I can go where I shan’t be Huffed at for looking.
[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) II 12: The trembling waiters dare not stay [...] Afraid of drubbing, kicks, or cuffing, / And leave the dreadful captain huffing.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 179: [as cit. 1762].
[UK]Burns Twa Dogs in Works (1842) 64/1: But then to see how ye’re negleckit, / How huff’d and cuff’d, and disrespeckit!
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) I 45: He huffs the Greeks, and damns their eyes.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 99: Should you wish to decline [...] at least huff the intruder with ‘hands off, fellow!’.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]‘I Will Have My Way’ in Rake’s Budget in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 66: ’Twas useless to huff me — I would have my way.
[UK](con. 1715) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 117: If they do [...] beat the watch or huff a magistrate, they pay for their pastime.

(c) to annoy, to offend.

[UK]S. Centlivre Busy Body Act III: Impossible, without he huffs the lady, and makes love to Sir Francis.
[UK]J. Gay Polly I ix: When kings by their huffing / Have blown up a squabble.
[Ire]H. Fitzcotton (trans.) Homer’s Iliad 27: Call me ragamuffin, / When I am daunted by your huffing.
[Aus]P. de Marivaux Agreeable Surprise (translation) II ii: Ods-daisy! but I’ll huff him; will that do? I’ll pull his wig. He’s mighty proud of his wig.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 25: You know it is a dang’rous thing / For any man to huff a king.
[US]Aurora (Phila.) 18 Dec. n.p.: The Philadelphia Gazette is huffed at our stating a fate.
[UK]T.C. Croker Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (1862) 145: It was plain he was huffed.
[US]J.F. Cooper Satanstoe I 81: Jason insisted that the young lady was huffed, as he called it, and that she had thus refused to take the money merely because she was thus offended.
[UK]Lytton My Novel (1884–5) I Bk I 41: Though the Squire was inclined to be very friendly to all his neighbours, he was, like most country gentlemen, rather easily huffed.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[US]‘Ouida’ Signa II 324: ‘She is a stupid little mule,’ thought the old woman, angrily. [...] And she went away huffed.
[UK]T.E. Brown Doctor 31: Huffed is he, eh? And who regards him? [F&H].
[US]A. Irvine My Lady of the Chimney Corner 26: He loves all His children and gets huffed at none.
[US]M. Cowley letter 5 May in Jay Sel. Correspondence of Burke and Cowley (1990) 119: They are a bit huffed.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Final Count 883: That’s what huffed ’em: old Stockton giving his celebrated rendering of a mechanic.
[UK]B. MacMahon Children of the Rainbow 91: Peter was squarely huffed.

(d) to throw one’s arms over a victim’s shoulders and then take the money from his pockets; the assault requires two partners, one to grab and one to rifle the clothes.

[UK]Examiner (London) 845/1: Johnson huffed, as it is called, the murdered man; that is, threw his arms over his victim’s shoulders, and took the money from his pockets ... Johnson huffed and Fare robbed the deceased .

2. (drugs) to sniff solvents or similar volatile substances; thus huffing, inhaling [SE huff, to blow].

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 12: Huffing — To sniff an inhalant.
[US]Mad mag. June 37: Huffing radiator fluid is starting to take its toll on the boy.
[UK]Guardian CiF 4 June [Internet] Here in Devon they huff the stuff [i.e. nitrous oxide] while they drive the rural lanes.

3. (drugs) to smoke marijuana.

[UK]Guardian On Line 24 Aug. [Internet] By the naughty Noughties, every one was blazing up [...] Copious shots of hoodie-clad fratboys huffing on pipes.

In phrases

stand the huff (v.) [stand v.2 (1) + SE huff/sense 1a above; the image is of the boastfulness that can underpin the gesture]

to take responsibility for the bill in a public house.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Huff, to stand the huff to be answerable for the Reckoning in a Publick house.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: To stand the huff; to be answerable for the reckoning in a public house.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.