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[uh-baft, uh-bahft] /əˈbæft, əˈbɑft/ Nautical
to the rear of; aft of:
the fife rail abaft the mainmast.
in the direction of the stern; astern; aft.
Origin of abaft
1225-75; Middle English on baft, abaft, equivalent to a-1 and on on + baft, Old English bæftan contraction of be + æftan. See by1aft1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for abaft
Historical Examples
  • The sound came from abaft his beam and his disquietude increased.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • I had them all ready, and went to my desk in my room, just abaft the pilot-house, for them.

    Down South Oliver Optic
  • Up with your helm, abaft there, and let her go off square before the wind!

    The Missing Merchantman Harry Collingwood
  • "I'm on the port side just abaft the pantry," I answered, shaking him by the hand.

    A Bid for Fortune Guy Boothby
  • Mr Culpepper was abaft, walking by himself, when Bob went up and accosted him.

    Percival Keene Frederick Marryat
  • Luxury starts from abaft, and is not wholly lost, even at the fore-peak.

    The Three Cutters Captain Frederick Marryat
  • The fore and main tops are sent up from abaft, and the mizzen from forward.

    The Seaman's Friend Richard Henry Dana
  • If it is just abaft the windlass, it will be convenient in case you wish to slip your cable.

    The Seaman's Friend Richard Henry Dana
  • There was a capstan just abaft the mainmast, and here the men assembled.

  • At that time we did not know how far we might be abaft the Cape 9of Good Hope.

British Dictionary definitions for abaft


adverb, adjective (postpositive)
closer to the stern than to another place on a vessel: with the wind abaft
behind; aft of: abaft the mast
Word Origin
C13: on baft; baft from Old English beæftan, from be by + æftan behind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for abaft

"in or at the back part of a ship" (opposed to forward), 1590s, from Middle English on baft (Old English on bæftan) "backwards." The second component is itself a compound of be "by" (see by) and æftan "aft" (see aft). The word has been saved by the sailors (the stern being the "after" part of a vessel), the rest of the language having left it in Middle English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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