American English

Definition of stuff noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1(informal) (sometimes disapproving) used to refer to a substance, material, group of objects, etc. when you do not know the name, when the name is not important, or when it is obvious what you are talking about What's all that sticky stuff on the carpet? The chairs were covered in some sort of plastic stuff. This wine is good stuff. (disapproving) I don't know how you can eat that stuff! They sell stationery and stuff (like that). Where's all my stuff (= my possessions)? (disapproving) Could you move all that stuff off the table? see also foodstuff Thesaurusthingsstuff property possessions junk belongings goods valuablesThese are all words for objects or items, especially ones that you own or have with you at a particular time.things (somewhat informal) objects, clothing, or tools that you own or that are used for a particular purpose:Can I help you pack your things? This box is full of camping things.stuff (informal) used to refer to a group of objects when you do not know their names, when the names are not important, or when it is obvious what you are talking about:Where's all my stuff? Don't forget your swimming stuff.things or stuff?These words are similar and often you can use either. Use things when the items might be used individually as tools (sewing thingsgardening things). Use stuff to refer to all the equipment necessary for one particular activity or (somewhat formal) a thing or things that are owned by someone:This building is government property. Be careful not to damage other people's property.possessions things that you own, especially something that can be moved:Prisoners were allowed no personal possessions except letters and photographs.junk things that are considered useless or of little value:I've cleared out all that old junk from the attic.belongings possessions that can be moved, especially ones that you have with you at a particular time:Please make sure you have all your belongings with you when leaving the plane.goods (somewhat formal or technical) possessions that can be moved:She was found guilty of trading in stolen goods.valuables things that are worth a lot of money, especially small personal things such as jewelry or cameras:Never leave cash or other valuables lying around.Patterns personal things/stuff/property/possessions/belongings to collect/gather/pack (up) your things/stuff/possessions/belongings to search somebody's/your/the things/stuff/property/belongings to go through somebody's/your/the things/stuff/belongings
  2. 2(informal) used to refer in a general way to things that people do, say, think, etc. I have lots of stuff to do today. I like reading and stuff. The band did some great stuff on their first album. This is all good stuff. Well done! What's all this “Mrs. Smith” stuff? Call me Anna. I don't believe in all that stuff about ghosts.
  3. 3stuff (of something) (formal or literary) the most important feature of something; something that something else is based on or is made from The trip was magical, the stuff of dreams. Let's see what stuff you're made of (= what sort of person you are). see also hot stuff
  4. Idioms
    be made of sterner stuff
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    to have a stronger character and to be more determined in dealing with problems than other people Many would have given up, but Tim was made of sterner stuff.
    don't sweat the small stuff (informal)
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    used to tell someone not to worry about small details or unimportant things
    do your stuff (informal)
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    to do what you are good at or what you have been trained to do Some members of the team are just not doing their stuff (= doing as well as they should). (figurative) The medicine has clearly done its stuff.
    kid stuff (also kids' stuff)
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    something that is so easy to do or understand that it is thought to be not very serious or only suitable for children
    know your stuff (informal)
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    to know a lot about a particular subject or job
    strut your stuff (informal)
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    to proudly show your ability, especially at dancing or performing strutting your stuff to the latest chart hits
    stuff and nonsense exclamation (old-fashioned) (informal)
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    used by some people to say that they think that something is stupid or not true
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: stuff