reef

1
[reef]
See more synonyms for reef on Thesaurus.com

Origin of reef

1
1575–85; earlier riff(e) < Dutch rif

reef

2
[reef]Nautical
noun
  1. a part of a sail that is rolled and tied down to reduce the area exposed to the wind.
verb (used with object)
  1. to shorten (sail) by tying in one or more reefs.
  2. to reduce the length of (a topmast, a bowsprit, etc.), as by lowering, sliding inboard, or the like.
  3. to pull (old oakum) out of seams, as with a rave hook (often followed by out).

Origin of reef

2
1350–1400; Middle English refe (noun) < Dutch reef
Related formsun·reefed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for reef

beach, shoal, atoll, bar, ridge, bank, rock, cay, skerry

Examples from the Web for reef

Contemporary Examples of reef

Historical Examples of reef

  • He had himself been obliged to bail out three times, running in from the reef.

    Malbone

    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • I said, standing on the steps like a captain ordering his men to take in a reef.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • I might even sweep the reef, on an emergency, by using old iron for shot!

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • "This is a part of the reef, then, that is never covered," said he.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The helm was attended to, and the boat drew slowly from the reef and ahead.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper


British Dictionary definitions for reef

reef

1
noun
  1. a ridge of rock, sand, coral, etc, the top of which lies close to the surface of the sea
  2. a ridge- or mound-like structure built by sedentary calcareous organisms (esp corals) and consisting mainly of their remains
  3. a vein of ore, esp one of gold-bearing quartz

Word Origin for reef

C16: from Middle Dutch ref, from Old Norse rif rib 1, reef ²

reef

2
noun
  1. the part gathered in when sail area is reduced, as in a high wind
verb
  1. to reduce the area of (sail) by taking in a reef
  2. (tr) to shorten or bring inboard (a spar)

Word Origin for reef

C14: from Middle Dutch rif; related to Old Norse rif reef, rib 1, German reffen to reef; see reef 1

Reef

noun the Reef
  1. another name for the Great Barrier Reef
  2. another name for the Witwatersrand
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 reef
n.1

"rock ridge underwater," 1580s, riffe, probably via Dutch riffe, from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse rif "ridge in the sea; reef in a sail," literally "rib" (see rib (n.)).

n.2

"horizontal section of sail," late 14c. (mid-14c. in rif-rope), from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse rif "reef of a sail," probably a transferred use of rif "ridge under the sea; rib" (see rib (n.) and cf. reef (n.1)). German reff, Swedish ref, Norwegian riv, Danish reb likely all are from the Old Norse word.

v.

1660s, "take in, roll up" (as a sail on a ship), from reef (n.2). Related: Reefed; reefing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

reef in Science

reef

[rēf]
  1. A strip or ridge of rocks, sand, or coral that rises to or near the surface of a body of water. See more at coral reef.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.