1. a soft, thick, light-yellow leather with a napped surface, originally made from buffalo skin but later also from other skins, used for making belts, pouches, etc.
  2. a brownish-yellow color; tan.
  3. a buff stick or buff wheel.
  4. a devotee or well-informed student of some activity or subject: Civil War buffs avidly read the new biography of Grant.
  5. Informal. the bare skin: in the buff.
  6. Also called buffcoat. a thick, short coat of buffalo leather, worn especially by English soldiers and American colonists in the 17th century.
  7. Informal. a buffalo.


  1. having the color of buff.
  2. made of buff leather.
  3. Slang. physically attractive; muscular.

verb (used with object)

  1. to clean or polish (metal) or give a grainless finish of high luster to (plated surfaces) with or as if with a buff stick or buff wheel.
  2. to polish or shine, especially with a buffer: to buff shoes.
  3. to dye or stain in a buff color.

verb (used with object)

  1. to reduce or deaden the force of; act as a buffer.


  1. Chiefly British Dialect. a blow; slap.


  1. buffe.

noun Armor.

  1. plate armor for the lower part of the face and the throat, used with a burgonet.


    1. a soft thick flexible undyed leather made chiefly from the skins of buffalo, oxen, and elk
    2. (as modifier)a buff coat
    1. a dull yellow or yellowish-brown colour
    2. (as adjective)buff paint
  1. Also called: buffer
    1. a cloth or pad of material used for polishing an object
    2. a flexible disc or wheel impregnated with a fine abrasive for polishing metals, etc, with a power tool
  2. informal one’s bare skin (esp in the phrase in the buff)


  1. to clean or polish (a metal, floor, shoes, etc) with a buff
  2. to remove the grain surface of (a leather)


  1. (tr) to deaden the force of


  1. archaic a blow or buffet (now only in the phrase blind man’s buff)


  1. informal an expert on or devotee of a given subjecta cheese buff

1570s, buffe leather “leather made of buffalo hide,” from Middle French buffle “buffalo” (15c., via Italian, from Latin bufalus; see buffalo (n.)).

The color term comes from the hue of buffalo hides (later ox hides). Association of “hide” and “skin” led c.1600 to in the buff. Buff-colored uniforms of New York City volunteer firefighters since 1820s led to meaning “enthusiast” (1903).

The Buffs are men and boys whose love of fires, fire-fighting and firemen is a predominant characteristic. [N.Y. “Sun,” Feb. 4, 1903]


“well-built, hunky,” 1980s, from buff (v.) “polish, make attractive.”


“to polish, make attractive,” 1885, in reference to the treatment of buff leather or else to the use of buff cloth in polishing metals, from buff (n.). Related: Buffed; buffing.

see in the buff.

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