adjective, bluff·er, bluff·est.
- good-naturedly direct, blunt, or frank; heartily outspoken: a big, bluff, generous man.
- presenting a bold and nearly perpendicular front, as a coastline: a bluff, precipitous headland.
- Nautical. (of the bow of a vessel) having a full, blunt form.
- a cliff, headland, or hill with a broad, steep face.
- North Dakota, Wisconsin, and the Canadian Prairie Provinces. a clump or grove of trees on a prairie or other generally treeless area.
- to pretend to be confident about an uncertain issue or to have undisclosed resources, in order to influence or deter (someone)
- deliberate deception intended to create the impression of a stronger position or greater resources than one actually has
- call someone’s bluff to challenge someone to give proof of his claims
- a steep promontory, bank, or cliff, esp one formed by river erosion on the outside bend of a meander
- Canadian a clump of trees on the prairie; copse
- good-naturedly frank and hearty
- (of a bank, cliff, etc) presenting a steep broad face
1839, American English, poker term, perhaps from Dutch bluffen “to brag, boast,” or verbluffen “to baffle, mislead.” An identical word meant “blindfold, hoodwink” in 1670s, but the sense evolution and connection are unclear; OED calls it “one of the numerous cant terms … which arose between the Restoration and the reign of Queen Anne.” Extended or figurative sense by 1854. Related: Bluffed; bluffing.
“broad, vertical cliff,” 1680s, from bluff (adj.) “with a broad, flat front” (1620s), a sailors’ word, probably from Dutch blaf “flat, broad.” Apparently a North Sea nautical term for ships with flat vertical bows, later extended to landscape features.
1844 as an alternative name for poker; from bluff (v.). As “an act of bluffing” by 1864.
see call someone’s bluff.