Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Puff.

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Exaggerated praise. The most popular etymology of this word is pouff, a coiffure employed by the ladies of France in the reign of the Grand Monarque to announce events of interest, or render persons patronised by them popular. Thus, Madame d’Egmont, Duke of Richelieu’s daughter, wore on her head a little diamond fortress, with moving sentinels, after her father had taken Port Mahon; and the Duchess of Orleans wore a little nursery, with cradle, baby, and toys complete, after the birth of her son and heir. These, no doubt, were pouffs and puffs, but Lord Bacon uses the word puff a century before the head-gear was brought into fashion. Two other etymons present themselves: the old pictures of Fame puffing forth the praises of some hero with her trumpet; and the puffing out of slain beasts and birds in order to make them look plumper and better for food—a plan universally adopted in the abattoirs of Paris. (German, puffen, to brag or make a noise; and French, pouf, our puff.)   1
   Puff, in The Critic, by Sheridan. An impudent literary quack.   2



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