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See also: Luff



From Old French lof. Collins English Dictionary states that this word is ultimately derived from Middle Dutch loef.[1] Ellert Ekwall's Shakspere's Vocabulary: its etymological elements (1903) related this verb and loof instead to the East Frisian verb lofen, lufen, which would make it cognate to the French term lover.


  • IPA(key): /lʌf/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌf


luff (plural luffs)

  1. (nautical) The vertical edge of a sail that is closest to the direction of the wind.
    By easing the halyard, the luff of the sail was made to sag to leeward.
    • 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island:
      "The man at the helm was watching the luff of the sail and whistling away gently to himself."
  2. (nautical) The act of sailing a ship close to the wind.
  3. (nautical) The roundest part of a ship's bow.
  4. (nautical) The forward or weather leech of a sail, especially of the jib, spanker, and other fore-and-aft sails.

Derived terms[edit]



luff (third-person singular simple present luffs, present participle luffing, simple past and past participle luffed)

  1. (nautical, of a sail, intransitive) To shake due to being trimmed improperly.
    • 1993, John Banville, Ghosts:
      I thought how my life is like a little boat and I must hold the tiller steady against the buffeting of wind and waves, and how sometimes, like this morning, I lose my hold somehow and the sail luffs helplessly and the little vessel wallows, turning this way and that in the swell.
  2. (nautical, of sailing vessels, intransitive) To bring the ship's head up closer to the wind. (Alternatively luff up)
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick:
      "Helm there! Luff, luff a point! So; steady, man, steady!"
  3. (nautical, transitive) to let out (a sail) so that it luffs.
  4. (mechanical) To alter the vertical angle of the jib of a crane so as to bring it level with the load.
    • 1999, Howard I. Shapiro, Jay P. Shapiro, Lawrence K. Shapiro, Cranes and Derricks[1], →ISBN, page 95:
      The tower is mounted on a slewing platform, which also carries the power plant and the counterweights, while the jib is supported and luffed by fixed pendant ropes.

Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ luff”, in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.

Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]



  1. (chiefly Northern) Alternative form of love (love)

Etymology 2[edit]



  1. (Northern) Alternative form of love (palm)