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Autumn leaves wafting in the breeze


From Middle English waften, of uncertain origin. Possibly from unattested Old English *wafettan, from wafian (to wave) +‎ -ettan, or perhaps borrowed from Middle Dutch wachten (to guard, provide for).[1] See also German wabern (to waft), Faroese veiftra (to wave) and Icelandic váfa (to fluctuate, waver, doubt).



waft (third-person singular simple present wafts, present participle wafting, simple past and past participle wafted)

  1. (ergative) To (cause to) float easily or gently through the air.
    A breeze came in through the open window and wafted her sensuous perfume into my eager nostrils.
    • 1914, Hesiod; Hugh G. Evelyn-White, transl., “To Aphrodite”, in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica (Loeb Classical Library; 57)‎[1], Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd., OCLC 728546559:
      I will sing of stately Aphrodite, gold-crowned and beautiful, whose dominion is the walled cities of all sea-set Cyprus. There the moist breath of the western wind wafted her over the waves of the loud-moaning sea in soft foam, and there the gold-filleted Hours welcomed her joyously.
    • 1922, James Joyce, chapter 13, in Ulysses, Paris: Shakespeare and Company, OCLC 2812845:
      Through the open window of the church the fragrant incense was wafted and with it the fragrant names of her who was conceived without stain of original sin []
    • 1940 May, “The Why and the Wherefore: Pulverised Fuel Experiment”, in Railway Magazine, page 318:
      The experiment was abandoned when one fine day spontaneous combustion of the pulverised coal in the container occurred, and a black cloud of the very finely divided fuel rose into the air by the force of the explosion, and was slowly wafted by the prevailing breeze over the town, upon which it descended with the resemblance of black snow, but with the dissimilarity that it did not melt.
    • 2016 March 27, Daniel Taylor, “Eric Dier seals England’s stunning comeback against Germany”, in The Guardian[2], London:
      Dele Alli, playing with a peacock-like spread of feathers, wafted one chance over an exposed net for a miss that was completely out of place with the rest of his display.
  2. (intransitive) To be moved, or to pass, on a buoyant medium; to float.
    • 1675, John Dryden, Aureng-zebe, London: [s.n.], OCLC 497010563, Act III, scene i; republished as “Aureng-Zebe, a Tragedy”, in Walter Scott, editor, The Works of John Dryden, now First Collected in Eighteen Volumes. Illustrated with Notes, Historical, Critical, and Explanatory, and a Life of the Author, by Walter Scott, Esq., volume V, London: Printed for William Miller, Albemarle Street, by James Ballantyne and Co. Edinburgh, 1808, OCLC 317070632, page 226:
      Unhappy Aureng-Zebe is in disgrace; / And your Morat, proclaimed the successor, / Is called, to awe the city with his power. / Those trumpets his triumphant entry tell, / And now the shouts waft near the citadel.
  3. To give notice to by waving something; to wave the hand to; to beckon.



waft (plural wafts)

  1. A light breeze.
    • 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide
      It lay before him white and ghaistly, with mist blowing in wafts across it and a slow swaying of the tides.
  2. Something (such as an odor or perfume) that is carried through the air.
    • 1908, Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, London: Methuen, →ISBN:
      Meanwhile, the wafts from his old home pleaded, whispered, conjured, and finally claimed him imperiously.
    • 2010 September, “The SLM Calendar”, in St. Louis Magazine, volume 16, number 9, St. Louis, Mo.: Hartmann Pub. Co., ISSN 1090-5723, page 170:
      Patrol Magazine says of this Oxford, Miss., band: "Guitars are responsible for every noise in Colour Revolt's mix—not a single note of piano, waft of synthesizer, or evidence of electronic tampering are to be found. []"
  3. (nautical) A flag used to indicate wind direction or, with a knot tied in the center, as a signal; a waif, a wheft.



  1. ^ waften, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.