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waft

[waft, wahft]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to carry lightly and smoothly through the air or over water: The gentle breeze wafted the sound of music to our ears.
  2. to send or convey lightly, as if in flight: The actress wafted kisses to her admirers in the audience.
  3. Obsolete. to signal to, summon, or direct by waving.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to float or be carried, especially through the air: The sound wafted on the breeze. The music wafted across the lake.
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noun
  1. a sound, odor, etc., faintly perceived: a waft of perfume.
  2. a wafting movement; light current or gust: a waft of air.
  3. the act of wafting.
  4. Also waif. Nautical. a signal given by waving a flag.
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Origin of waft

1535–45; back formation from late Middle English waughter armed escort vessel < Dutch or Low German wachter watchman; in some senses confused with waff
Related formswaft·er, nounun·waft·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for waft

Historical Examples

  • One fragrant breath of thee is as a waft of the joys of my youth!

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • The motion seemed to waft him off so that he knew nothing more.

    The World Beyond

    Raymond King Cummings

  • The clinks of bits and stirrup-irons came down in a waft again.

    Romance

    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • Scarce a wind can blow that will not waft to you these voices.

  • Here is the west wind; but only to waft the enemy into our hands.

    Feats on the Fiord

    Harriet Martineau


British Dictionary definitions for waft

waft

verb
  1. to carry or be carried gently on or as if on the air or water
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noun
  1. the act or an instance of wafting
  2. something, such as a scent, carried on the air
  3. a wafting motion
  4. Also called: waif nautical (formerly) a signal flag hoisted furled to signify various messages depending on where it was flown
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Derived Formswaftage, noun

Word Origin

C16 (in obsolete sense: to convey by ship): back formation from C15 wafter a convoy vessel, from Middle Dutch wachter guard, from wachten to guard; influenced by waff
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 waft

v.

1510s, "to carry over water," back-formation from obsolete wafter "convoy ship" (late 15c.), from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German wachter "a guard," from wachten "to guard," related to waken "rouse from sleep" (see wake (n.1)). The meaning "pass through air or space, float" is first attested 1704, and possibly shows some influence of northern dialect waff "cause to move to and fro" (1510s), a variant of wave. Related: Wafted; wafting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper