1. The material out of which something is made or formed; substance.
2. The essential substance or elements; essence: "We are such stuff / As dreams are made on" (Shakespeare).
a. Unspecified material: Put that stuff over there.
b. Household or personal articles considered as a group.
c. Worthless objects.
4. Slang Specific talk or actions: Don't give me that stuff about being tired.
a. The control a player has over a ball, especially to give it spin, english, curve, or speed.
b. The spin, english, curve, or speed imparted to a ball: "where we could watch the stuff, mainly curves, that the pitchers were putting on the ball" (James Henry Gray).
6. Basketball A dunk shot.
7. Special capability: The team really showed its stuff and won the championship.
8. Chiefly British Woven material, especially woolens.
9. Slang Money; cash.
10. Slang A drug, especially one that is illegal or habit-forming.
v. stuffed, stuff·ing, stuffs
a. To pack (a container) tightly; cram: stuff a Christmas stocking.
b. To block (a passage); plug: stuff a crack with caulking.
c. Basketball To block (a shot or an opponent who is shooting), especially before the ball leaves the shooter's hands.
a. To place forcefully into a container or space; thrust: stuffed laundry into the bag.
b. Sports To shoot (a ball or puck) forcefully into the goal from close range.
c. Basketball To dunk (the ball).
a. To fill with an appropriate stuffing: stuff a pillow.
b. To fill (an animal skin) to restore its natural form for mounting or display.
4. To cram with food.
5. To fill (the mind): His head is stuffed with silly notions.
6. To put fraudulent votes into (a ballot box).
7. To apply a preservative and softening agent to (leather).
To overeat; gorge.
stuff it Vulgar Slang
Used as an intensive to express extreme anger, frustration, or disgust.
stuff (one's) face Slang
To eat greedily.
[Middle English, from Old French estoffe, from estoffer, to equip, of Germanic origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.