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two loaves (1) of bread


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English lof, laf, from Old English hlāf (bread, loaf of bread), from Proto-West Germanic *hlaib, 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), Polish chleb (bread).


loaf (plural loaves)

  1. (also loaf of bread) A block of bread after baking.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 8, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      Philander went into the next room [] and came back with a salt mackerel that dripped brine like a rainstorm. Then he put the coffee pot on the stove and rummaged out a loaf of dry bread and some hardtack.
  2. Any solid block of food, such as meat or sugar.
    • 1631, Francis [Bacon], “4. Century.”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] VVilliam Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], OCLC 1044372886:
  3. (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, “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.”
  4. A solid block of soap, from which standard bars are cut.
Derived terms[edit]
  • Norwegian Bokmål: loff
  • Norwegian Nynorsk: loff
  • (soap) Miller, J.L. "Customers believe in downstate Soap Fairy", The News Journal, B10, January 10, 2006.

Etymology 2[edit]

Probably a back-formation from loafer.


loaf (third-person singular simple present loafs, present participle loafing, simple past and past participle loafed)

  1. (intransitive) To do nothing, to be idle.
    loaf about, loaf around.
    • 2015, Elizabeth Royte, Vultures Are Revolting. Here’s Why We Need to Save Them., National Geographic (December 2015)[1]
      They don’t (often) kill other animals, they probably form monogamous pairs, and we know they share parental care of chicks, and loaf and bathe in large, congenial groups.
  2. (Cockney rhyming slang) To headbutt, (from loaf of bread)