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Where did the term “cuffing season” come from and what does it have to do with Fall?

Michael Heffernan/Getty/iStock

So, when I first heard the term “cuffing season,” I thought it might be a vintage Jazz Age slang term. Like, “put up your dukes,” or “cat’s pajamas,” “making nookie,” or “the petting pantry.” I also didn’t know what it actually meant, and it brought to mind sports, or boxing. Maybe a street brawl. You know, fisticuffs.

I reached out to some friends for help before turning to Google, because I wanted to find out if I was alone in my ignorance. Was I missing out on a major pop culture moment? I posted my inquiry on Facebook, and received wildly varied responses.

A university English professor asked if “cuffing season” had something to do with catching animals.

A set designer responded, “Nobody cuffs Baby in the corner?”

A digital media deployment strategist asked if it was a Fifty Shades thing.


Then, a YouTuber left the most unlikely answer: “Fall/winter is here so that’s when people want to be in a relationship. Spring and summer comes around and everyone wants to be young, wild, and free.”

The YouTuber was right.

So here we are: What TF is cuffing season? Urban Dictionary defines cuffing season as a seasonal phenomenon in which:

“During the Fall and Winter months people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves along with the rest of the world desiring to be ‘Cuffed’ or tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.”

The term originated on the modern equivalent of the telegraph, Twitter, and became popularized by rap, specifically when Fabolous titled a 2013 track “Cuffin Season.”

The behavior referenced by the internet-born term may actually have some scientific sociological speculative foundation. An article by MTV posits that the behavioral evolution of cuffing goes back to our hunter-gatherer days:

“According to Darwin, individuals with maladaptive behaviors — like walking around alone in the dead of winter — were less likely to survive the cold and have kids, so their genes didn’t pass on to the next generation. Meanwhile, people who coupled up in the winter had better survival rates and, as a result, had more babies than single people did. Over time, all humans evolved to couple up in the winter because it was a behavior that ensured the species’ continued survival and successful reproduction in future generations.”

Some studies show that most babies are born in late summer, which shows that couples are definitely ~linking up~ the most in winter.

If you have someone with whom to share your bed, good for you: you’re doing cuffing season right.

At least I have a cat.
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