Main definitions of bluff in English

: bluff1bluff2bluff3

bluff1

noun

  • An attempt to deceive someone into believing that one can or is going to do something.

    ‘the offer was denounced as a bluff’
    mass noun ‘his game of bluff’
    • ‘We've seen lots of boasts and threats and feints and bluffs, but generally speaking organizations like this only resort to threats when they're not actually capable of real operations.’
    • ‘But apart from bluffs, tricks, and mayhem, the coming year may be a boon for babies.’
    • ‘There are probably those who still believe that this is a bluff.’
    • ‘She glanced off the platform and then back at him, hoping that he would believe her bluff and cough up the money.’
    • ‘The psychology of poker involves bluffing and detecting the bluffs of others.’
    • ‘They had informed him that my attempt was no bluff - it was not done to get attention - a half attempt.’
    • ‘This over-reaction is of course a bluff, an attempt to silence opposition, almost suggesting that these practices, reprehensible to me, are necessary for secular democracy.’
    • ‘It would be comforting to think he is playing no more than a game of bluff with the whisky companies, privately sharing their scepticism about strip stamps while forcing them to come up with a convincing alternative.’
    • ‘With limited resources and the inability to properly police such a vast area, the colonial authorities were playing little more than a game of bluff.’
    • ‘Still, for a man who has a history of bluffs and mind games not just in the Tour but throughout the season, no-one will immediately rule him out here, in a race he has won two times before.’
    • ‘The internet rumour mill has been working overtime, a game of bluff and counter-bluff spreading like a computer virus.’
    • ‘It is hard to read the auguries, so complex is this interplay of deception, self-deception, bluster and bluff.’
    • ‘A last-minute offer may be a ruse or a bluff but I'm the guy who ought to make that call.’
    • ‘His denunciation of my research is an audacious bluff, believable only by those who have never opened my book.’
    • ‘It should be obvious why I badly want to believe that this is a bluff or a ruse.’
    • ‘Trouble is, the first bluff is a life strategy while the second bluff is a political convenience.’
    • ‘The odds hadn't been in my favor as it seemed he was leading me on a series of bluffs and double-bluffs, but always keeping pace and never breaking the stare.’
    • ‘They think the government is playing a game of bluff.’
    • ‘I was beginning to believe it had all been a big bluff…’
    • ‘How many games of double-and-triple bluff are going on here?’
    deception, subterfuge, pretence, sham, fake, show, deceit, false show, idle boast, feint, delusion, hoax, fraud, masquerade, charade
    View synonyms

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1Try to deceive someone as to one's abilities or intentions.

    ‘he's been bluffing all along’
    ‘they bluffed their way past the sentries’
    with object ‘the object is to bluff your opponent into submission’
    • ‘I could get into their heads, so I knew if they were bluffing.’
    • ‘Right up to the end the dictator who fooled the world was bluffing - even to his closest aides.’
    • ‘Furthermore, when I asked in the staffroom if the little horror was bluffing, I was told that in all likelihood, he was telling the truth.’
    • ‘‘I might just google ‘my wife doesn't understand me’ and see what I get,’ I threatened, but I was bluffing.’
    • ‘We also take more risks than men give us credit for which means it can be very hard to tell when a woman is bluffing.’
    • ‘And the truth is this: I was bluffing - I didn't know Rob's last name either.’
    • ‘By bluffing and faking, you have to somehow provoke and deceive this system of defense.’
    • ‘Although my teacher certainly wasn't bluffing, I suspect we were both looking for the same thing: a cheap fix of escapism.’
    • ‘That history, combined with his decision last week to give Congress more time to consider the transaction, has led some in Congress to conclude that he is bluffing and will give lots of ground.’
    • ‘What private assurance did he have from the French that they were bluffing about a veto, or, if he had none, who advised him that they were probably bluffing?’
    • ‘But by bluffing and showing confidence and strength simply as a base attitude, I prevented anything getting out of hand.’
    • ‘She'd read each one of them as they appeared - and she wasn't bluffing - she really knew them and thought about them a lot.’
    • ‘And they know you aren't bluffing because, well, they'd do the same, and they know you've backed yourself into a corner.’
    • ‘However, it is entirely legal to try to mislead the opponents about your intentions by bluffing in the bidding, naming a contract completely different from the one you really want to play.’
    • ‘There was a magic revealed program on TV this weekend and I am sure that the magicians were bluffing with their revelations.’
    • ‘Thankfully, I never discovered whether this gang of kids were bluffing or not because a strapping man who had been drinking in the pub opposite sauntered on to the street.’
    • ‘I'm fairly sure she knew I was bluffing with a large part of my ‘history lesson’.’
    • ‘Now it seems he may have been bluffing all along, thus the efficacy of such a coalition seems doubtful.’
    • ‘He could have been bluffing, but we couldn't take that chance.’
    • ‘Both their livelihoods depend on the ability to bluff and sniff out fraud.’
    pretend, sham, fake, feign, put on an act, put it on, lie, hoax, pose, posture, masquerade, dissemble, dissimulate
    deceive, delude, mislead, trick, fool, hoodwink, dupe, hoax, take in, beguile, humbug, bamboozle, gull, cheat
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1bluff it out Survive a difficult situation by maintaining a pretence.
      ‘there's no point in trying to bluff it out’
      • ‘‘There is no doubt that if he continues to live in west Belfast, life could be made very unpleasant for him, but given his past and his knowledge of internal security methods, he probably thinks he can bluff it out,’ the source said.’
      • ‘When challenged he tried to bluff it out by claiming it was his friend's house but a neighbour knew the occupants.’
      • ‘She had lied like a child and when interviewed, she persisted and bluffed it out even when told the professor had denied knowing her.’
      • ‘Putting on an innocent look, and intent on bluffing it out he said, ‘What makes you say that?’’
      • ‘Aware of his approach, we could only hold our breath and bluff it out.’
      • ‘But the teenager bluffed it out by claiming his date of birth was wrong on his call-up papers, which had been prepared ahead of his birthday.’
      • ‘The ogre was going to play dead and bluff it out, but then he saw a female pointing toward him and the rest glancing his way.’

Origin

Late 17th century (originally in the sense ‘blindfold, hoodwink’): from Dutch bluffen ‘brag’, or bluf ‘bragging’. The current sense (originally US, mid 19th century) originally referred to bluffing in the game of poker.

Pronunciation

bluff

/blʌf/

Main definitions of bluff in English

: bluff1bluff2bluff3

bluff2

adjective

  • Direct in speech or behaviour but in a good-natured way.

    ‘a big, bluff, hearty man’
    • ‘Some thought the bluff carrier commander was borderline nuts.’
    • ‘Intentionally rough, the bluff critic reacts here as well to the spectacular reception of the poem.’
    • ‘He flattered his clients on their excellent judgment in buying from him rather than his competitors, but he could be bluff and straightforward when necessary.’
    • ‘His amiable personality and bluff manner had an impact and he came across as the straightforward soldier, doing his best for the country.’
    • ‘The man, beneath his coarse and bluff exterior, is haunted by a sense of his own inadequacy.’
    • ‘They allow her to reflect on what lies behind his macho, bluff exterior and why she reacts to it in the way that she does, in a supportive, non judgmental setting.’
    • ‘Blunt Limerick man and bluff Tipperary man did not enjoy the most harmonious of relationships.’
    • ‘The bluff sea-captains and commercial adventurers who founded the Australian colonies had no special gift for symbolism, but they knew what was expected of them.’
    • ‘A tough, bluff man, he had no desire to relive ancient trouble.’
    • ‘This is a play about transformations: a boy into a man, a man into a king, enmity to possible love (the wooing scene between the bluff Henry and the enchanting French princess is a delight).’
    • ‘HE'S the gruff, bluff detective who's as likely to bawl you out for making bad tea as to snap the handcuffs on a villain - so would you let him loose in a fighter jet?’
    • ‘He had a bluff and ebullient, although sympathetic manner, and was hospitable, always the life and soul of the party frequently one he had given himself.’
    • ‘One may counter that his music can take the bluff and hearty approach.’
    • ‘During trips home we'd have these bluff conversations about money and prospects, pensions and security.’
    • ‘There is nothing of the bluff and blustery manner, or the mean looks and imperious nature with which he had brought to life several characters in quick succession, the previous day.’
    • ‘Taking all of this into account, though there seemed to be an underlying sadness, I got the distinct impression that his bluff attitude was covering up something.’
    • ‘He was a bluff, domineering character who exuded confidence though politically he often showed signs of naivety.’
    • ‘Matching his rugged features he cultivated a bluff manner, parading humble origins and ridiculing a man who corrected his accent.’
    • ‘Megan looked over and up at a tall and bluff boy she's seen at school before standing in the doorway of what seemed to be his compartment.’
    • ‘Beneath his bluff exterior, he is a narrow-minded reactionary with merely some financial success.’
    plain-spoken, straightforward, blunt, direct, no-nonsense, frank, open, candid, outspoken, to the point, forthright, unequivocal, downright, hearty
    View synonyms

Origin

Early 18th century (in the sense ‘surly, abrupt in manner’): figurative use of bluff. The current positive connotation dates from the early 19th century.

Pronunciation

bluff

/blʌf/

Main definitions of bluff in English

: bluff1bluff2bluff3

bluff3

noun

  • 1A steep cliff, bank, or promontory.

    • ‘The slopes between the crags and rocky bluffs were still snowbound and while the snow was soft enough to kick steps into, the ground below was still iron-hard which is usually the result of several weeks of sub-zero temperatures.’
    • ‘At the edge of the bluffs, visitors get beautiful views of the ocean and headlands.’
    • ‘The Marin Headlands, the dramatic bluffs and canyons just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, are a perspective-altering place.’
    • ‘Here, gnarled sandstone bluffs drop straight into the sea.’
    • ‘On the steep bluffs north of downtown Seattle grows an impressive array of what is arguably the Pacific Northwest's most beautiful arboreal treasures: the Pacific madrone.’
    • ‘From the shadows came the roar of the waves as the beach swelled beneath the cliff bluffs.’
    • ‘The East Coast consists of several narrow bands of lowlands that lead to an intermediate zone of steep bluffs and ravines abutting a 1650 foot escarpment which provides access to the central highlands.’
    • ‘These river bank bluffs are generally lined with woody vegetation that support a flora which is sporadically seasonally flooded, and is more open and prone to disturbance than other wooded inland sites.’
    • ‘At this point, the steep bluffs lie approximately 30 m above the floodplain below.’
    • ‘During the breeding season, Prairie Falcons inhabit dry, open areas with cliffs and bluffs for nesting.’
    • ‘Planning the campaign involved myriad geographical factors, including the Mississippi Delta region, streams of various navigabilities, steep banks, and bluffs northeast of the city.’
    • ‘Deep ravines cut the northern shoreline off from inland settlements and transportation routes, and steep shale bluffs made it difficult to land goods on the shore.’
    • ‘In fact there are river banks and bluffs, coulees and crowns, sandhills and blue hills and unnamed prominences, ravines.’
    • ‘The bluff was wooded, and we could see but little.’
    • ‘It is characterized by a permanent stream meandering through steep sandstone bluffs.’
    • ‘We are drifting in the surge line between rock pinnacles and the bluff and I cannot believe my eyes.’
    • ‘He hoped to strike the Indian camp simultaneously from the north and south - but had not counted on the maze of bluffs and ravines he would have to contend with to get there.’
    • ‘To help protect homes from falling into the ocean, some oceanside towns have reinforced the bluffs and cliffs with sea walls, but sea walls deprive beaches of the sand that normally erodes from the bluffs and cliffs.’
    • ‘Al Deir is encircled by the rounded bluffs and ridges of a range which plunges 1500 metres to Wadi Araba, a valley linking the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.’
    • ‘Below stretched Carnmore, a water-filled trench hemmed in by brooding peaks and startling rock bluffs, mile upon mile of rugged isolation.’
    cliff, ridge, promontory, headland, crag, bank, slope, height, peak, escarpment, scarp, precipice, rock face, overhang
    View synonyms
  • 2Canadian A grove or clump of trees.

    • ‘Outcrops of the Prairie Grove often form bluffs and exhibit low - angle, trough cross-bedding.’
    • ‘It is comprised of bush, rock, two bluffs, and a swamp.’
    • ‘A couple of miles north and south the trees thicken up and the farms all have bluffs of trees on them so it is quite scenic.’
    • ‘The sun is just starting to illuminate the horizon of a cloud-laden sky and the dragons are behind a bluff of trees right on the city limits.’
    • ‘Today, all that remains is a bluff of trees in the middle of a cultivated field.’

adjective

  • (of a cliff or a ship's bows) having a vertical or steep broad front.

    • ‘Little or no mound fill was added to the westernmost edge of the mound with the contours of this area remaining essentially the same as the natural bluff ridge.’
    • ‘Half the barges were away, already sweeping downriver with thin, white mustaches under their bluff bows, when a commotion awoke ashore.’
    • ‘Here a narrow bluff trail crosses open country known today as the East West Ranch, affording views back toward pine forests embracing the town.’
    • ‘The stark rock, fading lower green fields, and deep blue of the ocean comes as a shock after the flat lush landscape and bluff coastline that characterises the rest of the county.’
    • ‘This attached vortex force is the source of pressure drag on a bluff body, such as a sphere or a flat plate normal to a steady flow.’

Origin

Early 17th century (as an adjective, originally in nautical use): of unknown origin.

Pronunciation

bluff

/blʌf/