[uh-baft, uh-bahft]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 by1 aft1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for abaft

Historical Examples of abaft

  • The sound came from abaft his beam and his disquietude increased.

  • 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.

  • Mr Culpepper was abaft, walking by himself, when Bob went up and accosted him.

    Percival Keene

    Frederick Marryat

British Dictionary definitions for abaft


adverb, adjective (postpositive)

closer to the stern than to another place on a vesselwith the wind abaft


behind; aft ofabaft the mast

Word Origin for abaft

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

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