New Word #6: The Double “F” Words

I’ve always felt that “f” is unfairly vilified. It takes on the thankless task of starting words like “fail”, “frail”, “flail”, “fray”, “fake”, “fall”. Even the seemingly harmless word like “frame” is burdened with additional meaning of “producing false evidence against”. Hasn’t “f” suffered enough? It is a hardworking alphabet and please give him a break.

I like “f” and I especially like words with double “f” at the end. I don’t know why. Probably because they are usually short. Or probably they give out a fluffy feeling. Or probably they are slang like even when they are not slang. And I think the most lovely part about them is the fact that you can somehow feel them. Let me explain.

Once I read an article and there’s a “tiff”–a little quarrel–in it and I felt an indescribable happiness as if my love for “ff” is finally shared by another person. And the word “riffraff” is so scruffy that one remembers it right away. The word “muff” gives you a feeling of using a piece of furry fur to cover something, doesn’t it? The word “gruff” almost gives out a rough abrupt sound. There’s no need to explain “fluff”–the very sound of it feels like soft fabrics touching you. And “puff” too. The mere pronunciation of it makes you feel the air (or smoke) puffing out of your mouth. I wish all English words are like this group of double-“ff”, but sadly that’s not the case. Most are quite troublesome to non-native speakers like me.

Here I have a list of them, gathered through my word-loving years, which are long gone by now. I think there are more “ff” out there. If there are any other “ff”, please let me know.

biff: strike (someone) roughly or sharply with the fist.

buff: a yellowish-beige color.

cuff: the end part of a sleeve; handcuffs.

diff: (slang) Abbreviation of difference.

doff: remove (an item of clothing).

duff: a flour pudding boiled or steamed in a cloth bag.

fluff: soft fibers from fabrics.

gaffe: an unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator; a blunder.

gruff: abrupt or taciturn in manner; (of a voice) rough and low in pitch.

huff: blow out loudly; puff; express one’s annoyance or offense.

jiff: a moment.

luff: the edge of a fore-and-aft sail next to the mast or stay.

miff: a petty quarrel or fit of pique.

muff: a tube made of fur

puff: a short, explosive burst of breath or wind.

riff: a short repeated phrase in popular music.

riffraff: disreputable or undesirable people.

sniff: draw in air audibly through the nose.

snuff: extinguish (a candle); kill or put an end to in an abrupt or sudden manner.

stiff: not easily bent or changed in shape; rigid.

staff: all the people employed by a particular organization.

stuff: a person’s belongings.

tiff: a petty quarrel, especially one between friends or lovers.

toff: a rich or upper-class person.

tuff: a light, porous rock formed by consolidation of volcanic ash.

whiff: a smell that is only smelled briefly or faintly; a puff or breath of air or smoke.

19 thoughts on “New Word #6: The Double “F” Words

    1. Wow, chuff and chaff are wonderful words. I can feel the sound of a steam engine and the puffing of the steam–chuff, chuff, chuff. Also chaff is almost the sound of separating the husks from the grains through threshing. LOL. Can’t love “ff” enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This belongs in a rhyming dictionary. Allow me to demonstrate:

    Today I got into a tiff,
    With Mr. Jones, who is so stiff,
    He said my head is full of fluff,
    I told him to stop being gruff,
    Then I told him where he can sniff.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Wow, that’s so much fun. Let’s ride your creative stream and add to this poetic limerick: He is happy to let out a whiff,/ forgetting all about our miff./Soon he start to huff and riff./ Finally he said, “aren’t we a pair of riffraff?”/I said, “don’t overdo it, which will be a gaffe.”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Giraffe is a wonderful word. I always imagine giraffe has something to do with gaffe. Anybody with a such a long neck has the courage of facing gaffes here and there.


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