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.