Originally, a nautical command to
keep a ship's head to the wind, it now describes the emotionally distant. What
word is it?
Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.
The critically-acclaimed board game
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
The word aloof derives from the Dutch loef, the weather side of a ship.
The wisdom buried in the etymology is that during
stormy weather you avoid dangerous - and hidden - shores by heading into the
weather (i.e. towards the wind).
Luffing one's sails, by
turning into the wind, releases the pressure in the sails and reduces heeling
and stops forward motion.
More precisely, lying
to, setting the sails so that the ship advances slowly but then turns
into the wind, luffing the sails and stopping the ship and then drifting off as
the sails fill again, the ship advances again but again turns into the wind,
and so on, is a storm strategy only if there are many miles between the ship
and the rocks because the ship will drift slowly downwind.
rogercumming' at 'earthlink.net
I think it was more to
avoid being capsized by the wind or driven too fast in any direction.
When you point a sailboat directly into the wind the
sail flaps or luffs ineffectually, and the boat moves more
slowly through the water than if the sail were smooth and providing
bennetc at watson.ibm.com
Very interesting, as always. I was further interested to find, on
checking the dictionary, that loef also entered English as
luff, with the original meaning somewhat altered and expanded
but fully recognizable.
dassori0 at 0aol.com
Hi, Moot Guy!
I actually guessed the word correctly, but had no idea of the background of it.
That's why I love the game! Thanks again!
[Mootguy: Thanks for the plug - the cheque's in the
npetteway at stx.rr.com
Interesting! The command now is LUFF, or LUFF UP, probably derived
jestrom at cox.net
The buried wisdom probably has more to do with the
The initial 'a' served as a preposition,
usually 'to' or 'toward' (abaft, alow, aweather, alee, etc.). Also in earlier
times the ships company tended after a while to take on a certain aroma, not
always pleasing to the nose.
The safest place to stand
was to the weather of the crew.
Also, the reason the
crew's quarters (and head) were at the forepeak is that on the most usual
points of sailing the ship's bow was well downwind of the captain's quarters
(and the poopdeck), unlike the modern jagt.
In fact the
captains often insisted on remaining aloef. Kinda stands to reason, doesn't
jlhannah at erols.com
Hey, I guessed this one correctly! I think of the Moot questions as
particularly difficult (so it's even more fun to get one right), so I am quite
pleased with myself this time.
Thanks to everyone for
the great explanations for this question.
redgilette at yahoo.com
In that case, what did sailors used to use to clean off their
ship's head/prow? Must have been aloofa.
pillstone123 at yahoo.com
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