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1. obsolete To knock one's knees together while walking or running (i.e., be "knock-kneed"). An unfortunate development in the boy's legs meant he cuffed Jonas as he ran.
2. obsolete To slap one's hands against one's sides or under one's armpits as a means of staying warm in cold weather. In wintertime, one can often see the homeless cuffing Jonas outside shelters and soup kitchens.
shoot (one's) cuffs
To flaunt something. Displaying one's ornate or elaborate cuffs was a common practice among medieval noblemen. I know you're happy about your promotion, but try not to shoot your cuffs, OK?
on the cuff
1. With the expectation, promise, or obligation that payment will be given in the future. I'm not getting paid till next week, but we really need a new TV, so I decided to buy this one on the cuff.
2. Without payment being necessary; for free. After the waiter spilled those drinks on my wife, the manager offered us our meal on the cuff.
off the cuff
Casually and spontaneously; without planning or preparation. Often hyphenated. I didn't have time to organize my thoughts, so I just spoke off the cuff. The senator has become known for making off-the-cuff remarks that create controversy.
A shortening of "handcuffs." Slap the cuffs on him, Joey—we'll question him back at the station.
put (something) on the cuff
To purchase something with the promise or obligation of providing payment in the future. I'm not getting paid till next week, but we really need a new TV, so I decided to put this one on the cuff. Be careful not to put too much on the cuff, or you'll end up swimming in debt for years.
speak off the cuff
To say something casually and spontaneously, without planning or preparation. (Hyphenated if used as an adjective before a noun.) I didn't have time to organize my thoughts, so I just spoke off the cuff. You could tell she had been speaking off the cuff, because she couldn't properly answer the questions reporters asked her at the end of the conference.
Fig. spontaneous; without preparation or rehearsal. Her remarks were off-the-cuff, but very sensible. I'm not very good at making speeches off-the-cuff.
put something on the cuff
Fig. to buy something on credit; to add to one's credit balance. I'll take two of those, and please put them on the cuff. I'm sorry, Tom. We can't put anything more on the cuff.
Fig. to speak without preparing a speech; to speak extemporaneously; to render a spoken opinion or estimate. (As if one's notes had been written hastily on one's cuff.) she is capable of making sense and being convincing even when she speaks off—the-cuff. I find it very difficult to speak off-the-cuff.
See also: speak
off the cuff
Impromptu, extemporaneous, as in His speech was entirely off the cuff. This term supposedly alludes to the practice of speakers making last-minute notes on the cuff of a shirtsleeve. [1930s]
on the cuff
1. On credit, as in He tried to hire a detective on the cuff. It is sometimes put as put on the cuff, meaning "extend credit to," as in They asked to be put on the cuff until they got their monthly check. This usage probably alludes to the practice of recording bar tabs on the bartender's cuff. Also see off the cuff. [Slang; 1920s]
2. Free of charge, as in We hope these drinks are on the cuff. [Slang; 1920s] Also see on the house.
COMMON An off-the-cuff remark, speech or decision is one that was not planned or thought about before. I'm sorry — I didn't mean any offence. It was a flippant, off-the-cuff remark. She delivered a brilliant off-the-cuff speech completely without notes. This wasn't just an off-the-cuff decision. Note: If you say something off the cuff, you say it without planning it or thinking about it. Eisenman was speaking off the cuff, and it's possible that my tape recorder did not catch every last word. His remarks — apparently made off-the-cuff — have raised a storm of protest. Note: One explanation for this expression is that after-dinner speakers used to write notes on the cuffs of their shirts, to remind them of what to say. Another explanation is that in the early days of cinema, directors sometimes wrote notes on their cuffs during the filming of a scene, to remind them of what they wanted to say to the actors.
off the cuffwithout preparation. informal
This expression refers to impromptu notes made on a speaker's shirt cuffs as an aid to memory.
on the cuff1 on credit. US informal 2 beyond what is appropriate or conventional. New Zealand
1 1992 Sandra Birdsell The Chrome Suite Their surveillance system keeps a beady eye open and they don't let you buy groceries on the cuff.
shoot your cuffspull your shirt cuffs out to project beyond the cuffs of your jacket or coat.
ˌoff the ˈcuffwithout previous thought or preparation: I don’t know how you can stand up and give an after-dinner speech off the cuff like that. ♢ an off-the-cuff remarkThis expression refers to the fact that in the past, people sometimes used to write notes on their cuffs (= the end of a shirt sleeve at the wrist) to remind them what to say when they were speaking in public, etc.
tv. to put a charge on one’s bill. Would you cuff this for me, please?
n. an off-the-cuff quote of a financial instrument price. (Securities markets.) This is just a cuff quote, but I would say it’s about ninety-four.
n. handcuffs. I felt the cuffs tighten and snap shut on my wrists.
off the cuff
In an extemporaneous or informal manner.
on the cuff