UK:*UK and possibly other pronunciationsUK and possibly other pronunciations/lʌf/US:USA pronunciation: respellingUSA pronunciation: respelling(luf )

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2020
luff  (luf ),USA pronunciation n. [Naut.]
  1. Nautical, Naval Termsthe forward edge of a fore-and-aft sail. See diag. under  sail. 

  1. Nautical, Naval Termsto bring the head of a sailing ship closer to or directly into the wind, with sails shaking.
  2. Nautical, Naval Terms(of a sail) to shake from being set too close to the wind:The sail luffed as we put about for port.
  3. Nautical, Naval Termsto raise or lower the outer end of the boom of a crane or derrick so as to move its load horizontally.

  1. Nautical, Naval Termsto set (the helm of a ship) in such a way as to bring the head of the ship into the wind.
  2. Nautical, Naval Termsto raise or lower the outer end of (the boom of a crane or derrick).
  • Middle Dutch (unrecorded), later Dutch loef tholepin (of tiller)
  • Middle English lof, loof steering gear (compare Old French lof ) 1175–1225

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
luff /lʌf/ n
  1. the leading edge of a fore-and-aft sail
  1. to head (a sailing vessel) into the wind so that her sails flap
  2. (intransitive) (of a sail) to flap when the wind is blowing equally on both sides
  3. to move the jib of (a crane) or raise or lower the boom of (a derrick) in order to shift a load
Etymology: 13th Century (in the sense: steering gear): from Old French lof, perhaps from Middle Dutch loef peg of a tiller; compare Old High German laffa palm of hand, oar blade, Russian lapa paw
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