[ luhf ]
/ lʌf /

noun Nautical.

the forward edge of a fore-and-aft sail.

verb (used without object)

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

verb (used with object)

to set (the helm of a ship) in such a way as to bring the head of the ship into the wind.
to raise or lower the outer end of (the boom of a crane or derrick).

Origin of luff

1175–1225; Middle English lof, loof steering gear (compare Old French lof) < Middle Dutch (unrecorded), later Dutch loef tholepin (of tiller)


un·luffed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for luff

British Dictionary definitions for luff

/ (lʌf) /


nautical the leading edge of a fore-and-aft sail


tackle consisting of a single and a double block for use with rope having a large diameter


nautical to head (a sailing vessel) into the wind so that her sails flap
(intr) nautical (of a sail) to flap when the wind is blowing equally on both sides
to move the jib of (a crane) or raise or lower the boom of (a derrick) in order to shift a load

Word Origin for luff

C13 (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
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