From Middle English lof, laf, from Old English hlāf (“loaf, cake, bread, food, sacramental bread”), from Proto-Germanic *hlaibaz (“bread, loaf”), of uncertain origin. Perhaps related to Old English hlifian (“to stand out prominently, tower up”). Cognate with Scots laif (“loaf”), German Laib (“loaf”), Swedish lev (“loaf”), Russian хлеб (xleb, “bread, loaf”).
loaf (plural loaves)
- (also loaf of bread) A block of bread after baking.
- Any solid block of food, such as meat or sugar.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Francis Bacon to this entry?)
- (Cockney rhyming slang) Shortened from "loaf of bread", the brain or the head (mainly in the phrase use one's loaf).
1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, “chapter VIII and XII”, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
- It is frequently said of Bertram Wooster that he is a man who can think on his feet, and if the necessity arises he can also use his loaf when on all fours. [...] “Why didn't the idiot tell her not to open it?” “It was his first move. ‘I've found a letter from you here, precious,’ she said. ‘On no account open it, angel,’ he said. So of course she opened it.” She pursed the lips, nodded the loaf, and ate a moody piece of crumpet. “So that's why he's been going about looking like a dead fish.”
- A solid block of soap, from which standard bars are cut.
- (soap) Miller, J.L. "Customers believe in downstate Soap Fairy", The News Journal, B10, January 10, 2006.
- (intransitive) To do nothing, to be idle.
- loaf about, loaf around.
- (Cockney rhyming slang) To headbutt, (from loaf of bread)