Puff

or PUFFER. One who bids at auctions, not with an intent to buy, but only to raise the price of the lot; for which purpose many are hired by the proprietor of the goods on sale.

to blow up, or swell with praise; declared by a writer in the Weekly Register, as far back as 1732, to be illegitimate.

Puff  has become a cant word, signifying the applause set forth by writers, &c. to increase the reputation and sale of a book, and is an excellent stratagem to excite the curiosity of gentle readers.”

Lord Bacon, however, used the word in a similar sense a century before. Sheridan also seems to have remembered the use of the word, vide  Mr. Puff.