The sound of this word may suggest straining to think—thinking hard while breathing hard (“hmmmm”), or puffing on a pipe, or something similar.
Note from Martin Gardner’s The Annotated Alice:
“The Bellman looked uffish, and wrinkled his brow,” Snark, Fit 4, verse 1. In a letter to child-friend Maud Standen, 1877, Carroll wrote that “uffish” suggested to him “a state of mind when the voice is gruffish, the manner roughish, and the temper huffish.”
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