Definition of scuff in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Scrape or brush the surface of (a shoe or other object) against something.

    ‘I scuffed the heel of my shoe on a stone’
    • ‘Sami looks down and scuffs his shoes on the concrete floor.’
    • ‘Her scuffed penny loafers rest on a copy of Mein Kampf.’
    • ‘Displays of unencumbered emotion have been a regular characteristic of pop concert audiences ever since Elvis scuffed his Blue Suede Shoes.’
    • ‘I'm talking carefully ripped jeans, studiously scuffed shoes, lovingly tousled hair and, for guys, cultivated stubble (this isn't so great on chicks).’
    • ‘Karolyi removes his scuffed shoes, shabby suit, black bow tie, and frilled shirt and hangs them carefully over rusting bedrails.’
    • ‘He stood there, as calm as ever, wearing only his neat black trousers and his scuffed boots, a few tendrils of plum-coloured hair tracing a colourful pattern against the smooth monotony of his skin.’
    • ‘The doctor returns a few minutes later with two pairs of second-hand shoes - one set of scuffed pumps and a pair of tasseled loafers.’
    • ‘For every Record Collector, LP paranoia eventually sets in and the beloved becomes a monster, desperate to scratch and scuff the poor helpless vinyl.’
    • ‘My loafers scuffed loose pebbles; a few scattered to spill into the surf churning far below.’
    • ‘Are you wearing scuffed sports shoes instead of scuffed Converse trainers?’
    scrape, rub, drag, brush, scratch, graze, abrade, rasp, lacerate, chafe, roughen
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Mark (a surface) by scraping or brushing it, especially with one's shoes.
      ‘the linoleum on the floor was scuffed’
      • ‘My first attempt to saw into the boulder barely scuffs the rock.’
      • ‘Eve took off her shoes so she wouldn't scuff that glorious floor.’
      • ‘The trappings of its demise are impressively rendered: the surface seemingly scarred and scuffed by the passage of years.’
      • ‘The soles of his shoes scuff the wet asphalt of black-and-white back alleys, headlights closing in behind him.’
      • ‘Enter through a chairless lobby and proceed down a dank hallway - stained carpet, scuffed walls - to the factory floor.’
      • ‘The High Rollers Bar is black Formica and black plaster walls that have been scuffed, scratched, and stained by spills and fights.’
      • ‘At the same time, he takes care to scuff his compositions with small marks, so that the studied perfection of his geometry is offset by the imperfection of the scratch or splotch on the surface that can recall timeworn linoleum floors.’
      • ‘She clutches her scuffed leather suitcase, traipsing around cities in Europe.’
      • ‘He shoves his hands into his pockets and scuffs the floor with his shoe.’
    2. 1.2no object (of an object or surface) become marked by scraping or brushing.
      ‘these shoes won't scuff’
      • ‘Valerio carefully reproduces the surfaces of the stained cinder-block wall, peeling white door and scuffed wooden table.’
      • ‘You needed a long bar, made of some dark aged wood, all nicked and scuffed smooth along its edges.’
      • ‘Many of the cases were personalized with monograms and scuffed by wear.’
      • ‘Both sets of impressions are scuffed, which, along with the two tight curves, suggests the animals were moving rapidly, says Monks.’
      • ‘Why pay attention to something that's just going to get scuffed up?’
      • ‘First came a short, stout black woman dressed like a hooker, shirt buttons undone, hair wild and dishevelled, dragging a scuffed duffel bag by its long loop.’
    3. 1.3 Drag (one's feet or heels) when walking.
      ‘he scuffed his feet boyishly’
      • ‘The middle child of the New Zealand arts scene, our literature scuffs its toes at the edges of the playground, watching the fun and hoping that someone will take it home to love it.’
      • ‘He flushes crimson and scuffs his toe against the tile floor a little.’
      • ‘Smith flashes a smile and scuffs his foot across a swath of browned grass where Greene and the other sprinters had vomited.’
      • ‘They talk for a moment, scuff their feet, and eventually shakes hands and smile.’
    4. 1.4no object, with adverbial of direction Walk while dragging one's feet or heels.
      ‘she scuffed along in her slippers’
      • ‘Every now and then, I watched as his feet kicked and scuffed along the ground.’
      • ‘His sandals scuff on the sandy path, as the geckos call goodnight.’
      • ‘Like everything else in the club, the stage and the floor had once been painted white, but the scuffing heels of a thousand boots had long since covered every surface in rubbery grey grime.’
      • ‘They sagged as he scuffed his way towards his bike leaning against the gutter.’
      • ‘Every day, relatives scuff their way along the dirt track to reach the razor wire barricades, where they plead in vain for information about the whereabouts of the missing.’
      • ‘I heard the noise of feet scuffing on the ground, and turned around.’
      • ‘His feet scuffed along the vividly colorful grass, it seemed a little too perfect here.’
      • ‘As she walked along outside the office, her Mary Janes scuffed along the ground as she dragged them beneath her.’
      • ‘The sound of running water nearby masked the tiny noise her old boots made as they scuffed along the limb.’
      • ‘However, her mouth was shut, but her feet scuffed along the ground.’


  • A mark made by scraping or grazing a surface or object.

    ‘dark colors don't show scuffs’
    • ‘Note the scuff marks caused by the screwdriver when opening and closing the coolant tank's plug.’
    • ‘If you have young children and pets, choose easy-to-clean carpets and colors that camouflage dirt and scuff marks.’
    • ‘I fidgeted with the strap again, trying to get comfortable, looking at the scuffs on my shoes and listening to Sidhe's footsteps.’
    • ‘Previous attempts by other companies required tearing up supermarket floors to install the ads, leaving scuff marks on the concept.’
    • ‘Mugolo could tell from the length of the scuff marks on the rock and later, where the rider had to cross some soft ground, the length of the stride.’
    • ‘Frankly, I've caused more than a few scuffs of my own, when I've been careless with my shoes, or if my keys stuck a bit out of my pockets and snagged something.’
    • ‘Gray eyes inscrutable, he examined the weapon, running a finger over a scuff on the muzzle absently.’
    • ‘The man that took the place of the silhouette had bandages on his left arm and chest and a couple of small scuffs here and there.’
    • ‘Engineers will mourn the first nick and scrape to their DMX-P01, much like a scuff on a cool new pair of shoes.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, life goes on, and time marches forward, even if it leaves its scuff marks on our bruised and tattered bodies, its foot prints on our souls.’
    • ‘Passing exorbitant Rodeo Drive on my left, I saw, stretching away south, a street that seemed to have normal shops, and family cars bearing the normal scuffs of suburban use.’
    • ‘Then Claire realized the scuffs were only about a day old.’
    • ‘We'll have to sell it as part our second-phase restructuring plan and the scuff marks wouldn't have helped.’
    • ‘Yes there are minor scuffs and abrasions to the pastel surface.’
    • ‘A majority of her frame was obscured by a bulky armor harness painted blood red, and marred with a thousand tiny scuffs and scratches.’
    • ‘All the way from the scuff of dirt on the floor to the tiny cracks on the ceiling.’
    • ‘The floor of the basement is decorated with a pattern of coloured lino, like a giant green snowflake, marked with black scuffs where bored rats have performed stunts in empty carts.’
    • ‘She inched up the wall, startled by the scuffs she had never noticed and then the dirty, unpolished glass that held but spots of reflection.’
    • ‘Because of the long nose, another place worth checking for scuffs is the front bumper.’
    • ‘Most of the nicks, scuffs and gouges that currently mar the work are a result of human carelessness, such as carts and chairs banging into the walls.’


Early 18th century: perhaps of imitative origin.