\ ə-ˈlüf How to pronounce aloof (audio) \

Definition of aloof

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: removed or distant either physically or emotionally an aloof, unfriendly manner He stood aloof from worldly success.— John Buchan



Definition of aloof (Entry 2 of 2)

: at a distance trying to keep failure aloof

Other Words from aloof


aloofly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for aloof


indifferent, unconcerned, incurious, aloof, detached, disinterested mean not showing or feeling interest. indifferent implies neutrality of attitude from lack of inclination, preference, or prejudice. indifferent to the dictates of fashion unconcerned suggests a lack of sensitivity or regard for others' needs or troubles. unconcerned about the homeless incurious implies an inability to take a normal interest due to dullness of mind or to self-centeredness. incurious about the world aloof suggests a cool reserve arising from a sense of superiority or disdain for inferiors or from shyness. aloof from his coworkers detached implies an objective attitude achieved through absence of prejudice or selfishness. observed family gatherings with detached amusement disinterested implies a circumstantial freedom from concern for personal or especially financial advantage that enables one to judge or advise without bias. judged by a panel of disinterested observers

Can you be loof instead of aloof?

The English language has a large number of words that contain a negative prefix, and for the most part these will leave us with an easy way to understand these words if we take their prefixes away. Disinclined is "the state or condition of not being inclined to do something," unaware means "not being aware," and amoral refers to not being moral. Every so often, however, we come across specimens which appear somewhat odd if we take away the prefix; if disgruntled means “discontented” then does gruntle mean “to make content”? And if aloof means “emotionally or physically distant” then must loof mean “emotionally or physically close”?

It’s a bit complicated. In the case of gruntle, the word does indeed mean “to put in a good humor,” but only because people began using it in this fashion in the early 20th century as a jocular back-formation from disgruntle. Gruntle had an earlier sense, which was “grumble,” and the dis- in disgruntle was an intensifying prefix rather than a negative one. In the case of aloof the a- is a negative prefix, but loof did not mean “close.” This word is a variant of luff, which referred to the side of a ship, and the earliest sense of aloof was “to windward.” Soon after the word entered English it began to be used to mean “at a distance,” and soon after that took on the meaning of “physically or emotionally removed.”

Examples of aloof in a Sentence

Adjective In truth, he isn't so much aloof as he is courtly in a formal, afternoon-tea sort of way. — Joe Klein, Time, 21 July 2003 Most American journalists who "do" politics cannot resist getting to know the Players. Walter Lippmann was typical of an earlier generation, the disinterested wise man who remained aloof, chiselling great thoughts on marble columns. — Gore Vidal, Nation, 12 June 1995 Jeremy Price (this name and a few others have been changed), a black teacher from St. Paul's, tried a few times to make small talk, but he was a Brahmin from another planet: cool, ironic, aloof. — Lorene Cary, Black Ice, 1991 Somehow, I remember the fireworks man as solitary, aloof, coveralled, perhaps sooty, staring straight ahead as he came, perhaps reflecting back on the trench-war violence he had just been a part of … — George Plimpton, Fireworks, 1984 They tried to keep aloof from the politics of the day. the new kid was really not so aloof as we thought him at first, just painfully shy See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective His inability to remember people resulted in a reputation for being aloof and self-absorbed. Ebony Williams, ajc, 11 July 2022 Those who did vote were seemingly unenthusiastic about by Macron's new government and the fact that a leader long derided for an aloof and distant approach to politics was again accused of going missing at a key moment. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 20 June 2022 Those who know Carman have described him as aloof or standoffish. Hartford Courant, 10 May 2022 There was the Newfoundland (who later turned out not to be a Newfoundland) who had been adopted to fulfill a Peter Pan–esque fantasy of a devoted dog nanny, but acted so aloof that his owners put him on meds. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 28 Apr. 2022 Amundsen was famously aloof, unwilling to show any emotion other than anger, and growing increasingly paranoid with age. David James, Anchorage Daily News, 12 Mar. 2022 Yet, others complained that Bowser is too aloof and voiced the long-standing frustration that their communities do not receive as much attention as more affluent White neighborhoods. Washington Post, 7 Mar. 2022 The breed can be aloof with strangers but loves snuggling with its family and often has a strong desire to please its owners. Kelli Bender,, 4 Jan. 2022 On the surface, Babyface Ray’s rhymes sound aloof — cold and distant. Stephanie Williams, Washington Post, 1 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aloof.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of aloof


1608, in the meaning defined above


1523, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for aloof


derivative of aloof entry 2


from earlier aloof "(on a ship) to windward, toward the direction from which the wind is blowing (hence avoiding the lee shore)," from a- entry 1 + loof, variant of luff entry 1

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Aloof.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for aloof


\ ə-ˈlüf How to pronounce aloof (audio) \

Kids Definition of aloof

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: at a distance stood aloof



Kids Definition of aloof (Entry 2 of 2)

: not friendly or outgoing

More from Merriam-Webster on aloof

Nglish: Translation of aloof for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of aloof for Arabic Speakers


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