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Guff can mean a puff of wind, or a spate of meaningless verbiage. The etymology is from the Norwegian word guffa.

So, when someone says, "Don't give me any guff," they mean for you to shut up and not bother them with your pointless talk!

In British slang, "guff" is, among other things, a word for flatulation. This is true in both noun and verb forms, although more commonly in the verb.

Examples of usage:

  • (sniffs the air inquisitively) "Hmm, Kenneth has guffed."
  • (sniffs the air cautiously) "That was an impressive guff, Kenneth." // Not particularly common usage; may be deprecated.

Another sense is as a derogatory term denoting the low quality of any given thing. As far as I can tell, usage in this sense almost exactly parallels that of the word crap in the same context; noun and adjective.

Examples of usage:

  • "The movie we went to see last night was pretty guff."
  • "Scientology is a load of guff if you ask me."

There is a third sense of guff, meaning redundant, or overly verbose information. Usage in this sense parallels that in sense 2, noun form.

Example of usage

  • I could give you examples from different areas of literature, television, film and E2 Writeups, in varying degrees of severity, with sidenotes on appropriate tone of voice, yadda yadda yadda... but that would just be guff.

One important point to notice regarding the different senses of "guff": In the first sense listed above, the noun form refers to guffs as distinct and separate items, whereas the second and third treat guff as being an arbitrarily divisible substance.

Disclaimer: this is all taken from my own experience, and some of it may well only apply where I live. If anyone has further information please /msg me or (even better) add your own writeup below.

In Irish slang, guff is also used sometimes to substitute grief.

"I was mad late for work this morning and my boss gave me a load of guff."

"I just crashed my father's car, I'm in a whole new world of guff."

"I went to the pub last night and saw two of my ex-girlfriends/boyfriends sitting together. I was getting guff from all angles."

"The wife/husband was giving me awful guff this morning."

In housing co-ops, guff means something is communal property. This word allegedly began in the ICC co-ops in Ann Arbor, Michigan--in Mich House, specifically, and is typically considered an acronym for "Generally Unrestricted Free Food" (in Ann Arbor) or "General Use Food and Furniture" (in Austin). (Urban Dictionary says "General Unspecified Free Food", which may be an Ann Arbor thing as well) It seems to have spread to most housing co-ops in North America, though I have heard of one deviant co-op using the term "Blammo".

Co-ops are communal living spaces with shared, communal food, but you might also want to buy your own fancy cheeses that the co-op doesn't want to splurge for. As such, it's important to distinguish between communal and non-communal property. "Guff" is the distinguishing term.

Guff is not limited to food, however. As noted in the Austin backronym, it could be furniture, or most anything else, really. A house might have a guff bicycle, that anyone may ride--it's worth noting, however, that in this case you can't take it and keep it as your own. The desk a former member dumped in the shed, however, is something you can take and keep in your room as your own. It can be ambiguous. (Food, conveniently, is consumed, so it lacks any confusion about whether it's "take-and-keep-for-yourself" or "use-but-don't-keep-for-yourself".)

If you find yourself living in a co-op for more than a semester or two, you will find it hard to restrain from using this term in conversation outside the co-op scene, because it's just so darn useful. "Is that cake in the staff lounge guff?" is a question I feel the need to ask, well, every time there's non-obviously-guff cake in the staff lounge. "Up for grabs" just doesn't have the same flow.


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