Puckfist: ‘an empty braggart.’ Here’s an abbreviated version of the OED entry:

puckfist (‘pʌkfɪst). [app. f. puck sb.¹ + fist sb.² Cf. puff-fist, -foist, which appears about the same date.]

1 The Puff-ball, Lycoperdon Bovista. Also abbreviated puck.
1601 B. Jonson Poetaster iv. v, I’ll blow him into aire, when I meet him next: He dares not fight with a puck-fist. 1893 S.E. Worc. Gloss. s.v., I shud like a drap o’ drink, fur I feels as dry as a puck-fyst.

2 A term of contempt for an empty braggart.
1599 B. Jonson Ev. Man out of Hum. 1, To be enamour’d on this dusty turf, This clod, a whoreson puck-fist. 1605 Tryall Chev. iv. i. in Bullen O[ld English] Pl[ays] III. 328 Giue me leaue to incounter this puckfist, and if I doe not make him cry Peccavi say Dicke Bowyer’s a powdered Mackrell. 1637 Shirley Example ii. i, Lady, he is no man..A very puckfist. Jacinta. What’s that, I pray? Vain. A phantom, a mere phantom. 1821 Scott Kenilw. xviii, A base besognio, and a puckfist.

attrib. 1615 J. Taylor (Water P.) Urania xxiv. Wks. (1630) 3/2 Then loue him; else his puckfoist pompe abhorre.

[The serendipitous finding of this word was inspired by the ever-inspirational Caterina. And in case you were wondering, a besonio (or besognio) is ‘a raw soldier; (term of contempt) a needy beggar, a base worthless fellow.’]

Update (Nov. 2021). I am happy to report that the entry was updated in September 2007; here is the new version, antedated by three centuries:

Etymology: Apparently < puck n.¹ + fist n.² With sense 1 compare puff-fist n., and also puffball n. 1.

I. As the name of a plant.

1. A puffball fungus. English regional (chiefly west midlands) in later use. Now rare.
c1300 in T. Hunt Pop. Med. 13th-cent. Eng. (1990) v. 263 Item contra brok: Recipe mussourounys .i. poukisthes qui crescit super sterquilinium .i. miskyn.

1602 B. Jonson Poetaster iv. vii. sig. I2 I’le blow him into aire, when I meete him next: He dares not fight with a puck-fist .
1609 C. Butler Feminine Monarchie x. sig. K6 Next vnto brimstone [for smoking bees] is the smoake of tuchwood, or puckfists.
1766 Compl. Farmer at Bee The narcotic, or stupefying fume, is made with the..large mushroom, commonly known by the name bunt, puckfist, or frog-cheese.
1852 J. Allies Antiq. Folk-lore 418 They also call the puff, or puck-ball fungus, by the name of pug-fiest.
1903 M. E. Belcher in Eng. Dial. Dict. IV. 636/2 Puckfice.

II. As a derogatory name for a person.

2. A boaster, a braggart. Now archaic.
1600 B. Jonson Every Man out of his Humor i. ii. sig. D To be enamour’d on this dustie Turfe? This clod? a horson Puckefist ?
1605 Hist. Tryall Cheualry sig. G2ᵛ Giue me leaue to incounter this puckfist: and if I doe not make him cry Peccaui, say Dicke Bowyer’s a powdred Mackrell.
1615 J. Taylor Vrania xxiv, in Wks. (1630) 3/2 Then loue him; else his puckfoist pompe abhorre.
1821 W. Scott Kenilworth II. vi. 178 A base besognio, and a puckfist.
1989 Times Lit. Suppl. 21 July 798/4 Perhaps I am a paranoid puckfist, but when I see my praise being used as a puff for a novel, and my name has been reduced merely to Sunday Times..I begin to wonder if this is..a palpable snub.
1996 Sunday Tasmanian (Austral.) (Nexis) 29 Dec. The only time he has ever sworn over the air-waves was accidentally while trying to say the word ‘puckfist’—a word referring to a person who dominates conversation at a dinner party.

3. A tight-fisted or avaricious person, a miser. Obsolete.
1606 Wily Beguilde 9 I heard your father say, that he would marrie you to Peter Ploddall, that Puckefist, that snudge snowte.
1631 B. Jonson New Inne iii. i. 151 Peirce. A grazier’s may. Fer. O they are pinching puckfists! Trun. And suspicious.


  1. i’m really puckinfist now.

  2. Quonsar!! If I’da known you were coming, I’da baked a snark!

  3. Commenting to call attention to the update; don’t miss the 1996 Sunday Tasmanian quote.

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