• synonyms


See more synonyms for reefer on Thesaurus.com
  1. Nautical. a person who reefs.
  2. a short, close-fitting coat or jacket of thick cloth, similar to a pea jacket.
  3. a woman's tailored, fitted, single- or double-breasted coat of durable material with a collar.
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Origin of reefer1

First recorded in 1820–30; reef2 + -er1


noun Slang.
  1. a marijuana cigarette.
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Origin of reefer2

1930–35; probably < Mexican Spanish grifa; see griefo


noun Informal.
  1. a refrigerator, especially one large enough to be walked into.
  2. a refrigerator car, ship, truck, etc.
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Origin of reefer3

First recorded in 1910–15; alteration and shortening of refrigerator
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for reefer

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He went into his bedroom and returned with a heavy "reefer" jacket.

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • When it cleared off, put on and reefer, and rubber boots, and went out.

    Jimmy Crow

    Edith Francis Foster

  • The crackle of the legal paper in his reefer pocket only accentuated his gloom.

  • He acknowledged that it was bad enough to kill a dog, but that a reefer could stand it.

    Rattlin the Reefer

    Edward Howard

  • The names of the captured gunboats were Nonata, Bonita and Reefer.

British Dictionary definitions for reefer


  1. nautical a person who reefs, such as a midshipman
  2. another name for reefing jacket
  3. slang a hand-rolled cigarette, esp one containing cannabis
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Word Origin

C19: from reef ²; applied to the cigarette because of its resemblance to the rolled reef of a sail


  1. a ship, lorry, or other form of transport designed to carry refrigerated cargo
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Word Origin

C20: shortened and adapted from refrigerator
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 reefer


"marijuana cigarette," 1920s, perhaps an alteration of Mexican Spanish grifo "marijuana, drug addict" [OED]; or perhaps from reef (v.), on resemblance to a rolled sail. It also meant "pickpocket" in criminal slang (1935). Reefer also was a nickname for "midshipman" (1818) "because they attend in the tops during the operation of reefing" [Century Dictionary], which is the source of the meaning "coat of a nautical cut" (1878) worn by sailors and fishermen "but copied for general use in the fashions of 1888-90" [CD].

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

reefer in Medicine


  1. Marijuana, especially a marijuana cigarette.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.