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[ohf] /oʊf/
a clumsy, stupid person; lout.
a simpleton; dunce; blockhead.
  1. a deformed or mentally deficient child.
  2. a changeling.
Origin of oaf
1615-25; variant of auf, Middle English alfe, Old English ælf elf; cognate with German Alp nightmare
Related forms
oafish, adjective
oafishly, adverb
oafishness, noun
Can be confused
oaf, oath.
1. churl, boor. 2. dolt, ninny.
Synonym Study
1. See boorish. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for oaf
Historical Examples
  • With Bill Forrester dead, then, had she turned to the oaf for comfort?

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • The oaf shambled along, his arm no longer around Gerda's waist.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Viewed objectively, there was nothing wrong with what the oaf was doing.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • He and Joe were well matched and with the oaf as an ally really he had all the best of it.

    Mercenary Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • For a double second he had the oaf alone on his hands and that was sufficient.

    Mercenary Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • If he knew how to play his cards—but there, the oaf will put his grate foot in it.

    A Daughter of Raasay William MacLeod Raine
  • What was she sent down here for but to catch you, you oaf, you fool, you!

    Phoebe, Junior Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant
  • The note in Bell's Chaucer, connecting it with oaf, is wrong.

  • There was little to be done in diplomacy with an oaf like that.

    The Fighting Chance Robert W. Chambers
  • "It is the oaf I passed on the pier," cried Shagarach, interrupting Emily.

    The Incendiary W. A. (William Augustine) Leahy
British Dictionary definitions for oaf


a stupid or loutish person
Derived Forms
oafish, adjective
oafishly, adverb
oafishness, noun
Word Origin
C17: variant of Old English ælfelf
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 oaf

1620s, auf, oph (modern form from 1630s), "a changeling; a foolish child left by the fairies" [Johnson], from a Scandinavian source, cf. Norwegian alfr "silly person," in Old Norse, "elf" (see elf). Hence, "a misbegotten, deformed idiot." Until recently, some dictionaries still gave the plural as oaves.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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