The word fluff has many usages and connotations in the English language. Let's review:
- As a verb, fluff is generally a condescending term.
- To fluff can mean to be superfluous or unnecessarily bombastic, particularly in a situation where one doesn't know what one is talking about. Term papers are common spawning grounds for acts of fluffing.
- To fluff can also be the active verb of making something fluffy (shaking a pillow, for example, to allow the feathers within more breathing room, or teasing your hair outwards while it is wet.)
- To fluff can also mean to make a mistake, especially while in the act of performing or acting. See also the derivatives "flub" and "muff."
- Fluffing is also the colloquial term for the act of preparing porn stars for their on-screen acts by fellating or manually masturbating them before the cameras roll.
- In Australia, my good friend Taliesin's Muse tells me, to fluff also means to cut the cheese. Used in the following sentence: Women don't fart, they panty fluff.
- As a noun, fluff has multiple meanings as well. It generally refers to anything "fluffy" - light and airy.
- The trade name is, of course, a marshmallow-based substance often spread on sandwiches. When combined with peanut butter, the end result is Fluffernutter, a popular treat in the northeastern United States. Fluff is also commonly spread on cookies, gingersnaps, graham crackers, and cakes.
- Fluff is also another term for lint, feathers, down, cotton swabs, clouds, and generally any other nondescript soft airy item. In the paper manufacturing business, "fluff pulp" is leftover pulp with a high absorbance rate, making it ideal for placement in diapers and tampons.
- Colloquially, fluff refers to anything superficial - that is, that carries little weight. This might mean movies aimed at scatology-loving teenagers (Dumb and Dumber, Scary Movie 2), Muzak, or news items about the world's largest onion. A new term that has sprung up recently is "booth fluff" - attractive women placed around booths at conventions to attract male visitors, despite the fact the women have little to do with the product or presentation.
- A fluff is also another term, used pejoratively for anyone new to a particular environment or field. Most frequently used in areas where virtually anyone can join, but few can master (web design and paganism are particularly recurring examples.) Compare to "newbie" and "rookie".
- In newsgroup and role-playing jargon, fluff is a background story arc created to explain anything fictional. An example would be a story to explain the history of orcs in WarCraft, or the origin of The Matrix.
- And finally, a fluff is any furry androgyne lacking any major sexual characteristics. They're usually fictional and therefore drawn rather cartoonishly. It's not hard to find pictures of fluffs on the relevant newsgroups, and while I don't see the appeal, they certainly fit the bill if you're into that scene *and* ambiguous sexuality.
Fluff is also the name of a psychedelic rock band whose sole discography credit was their self-titled debut on Roulette Records. Released in 1971, the track listing was as followed:
- You Made Me Lose Control
- Who's Gonna Love Me In The Meantime
- Go To Sleep Elaine
- Free For All
- Unloving You
- The Only Reason You Never Did It Before (Is 'Cause You Never Did It Before)
- What She Doesn't Know
- Warm My Soul
- Something Strange Is Happening
- Crazy Lady
The only web review of the band I can find is at Borderline Books' fabulous Fuzz Acid and Flowers website, where Stephanie Rebischini writes, "An average rock group, with nice harmonies, whose only album came in a superb psychedelic cover." So much for staying power.
Fluff was also the name of the third and final album from middling Swedish pop rock group Atomic Swing. Preceding bands such as The Cardigans and Eggstone, Atomic Swing generated a light, catchy organ-driven pop sound. However, by 1997, their leader Nicolas Frisk and the rest of the band had been through rocky times. They had just found a replacement bassist, and headed to France to record with the famed producer Mike Hedges (The Cure, Manic Street Preachers, Travis). They produced Fluff, which included the radio single "Walking My Devil," but little else came of it, the album sold poorly, and the band disbanded just 6 months later. The track list:
- Midnight Scraper
- Bought and Sold
- Walking My Devil
- My Last Humiliation
- When My High Goes Down
- Straight Forever
- Gone in the Smoke
- Stray Dog
- Teenage Nocturne
- Waiting on a Friend
- Revival Days
If you're a heavy metal fan, "Fluff" (Osbourne/Wakeman/Iommi/Butler) should have a special place in your heart. Black Sabbath's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath featured some of their deepest and most compelling music to date - from Rick Wakeman's contribution to "Sabbra Cadabra" to the finishing swirls of "Spiral Architect" - yet "Fluff" remains probably my favorite song on the album; Tony Iommi wrote one of the brightest and most fascinating melodies for that song. From beginning to end, it is a testament to the power of guitar rock to be evocative without being pretentious, and to soar but not wank. As an instrumental, it ranks among the best of all-time.
"Fluff" was also the name of a comic strip by King Features worker Nina Paley. It ran from late October, 1997, until December of 1998, when it was cancelled. It featured the daily antics and capers of a cat Sasha and a dog Checkers that lived together. Later additions included a rare pygmy alligator named Elba and a second cat Snark. Like most animal-centric strips, the fact that they were animals didn't stop them from talking, debating over human philosophy, or occasionally dressing up and in general acting rather anthropomorphic.