\ 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 For even the most aloof cats, just a few leaves of catnip can trigger excited fits of chewing, kicking and rolling around. Sam Zlotnik, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 June 2022 If Cho’s casting was a foregone conclusion, the most challenging role to fill was Will, the aloof and snobbish Darcy character who eventually reveals a wellspring of decency and repressed passion. Inkoo Kang, Washington Post, 7 June 2022 Because this relationship is precarious, leaders often remain aloof to keep followers from seeing them as ordinary human beings. Joseph P. Laycock, The Conversation, 3 Feb. 2022 The enigmatic boss with a detached, aloof management style doesn’t fit a remote work environment. Betsy Leatherman, Fortune, 23 May 2022 Kawakami gradually reveals the woman beneath the cipher, as Fuyuko is forced to confront the specter of Mizuno, the aloof teenager who took her virginity in a brutal encounter. Washington Post, 5 May 2022 But massive lecture halls, aloof professors teaching essentially as a side job to research, and ultimately the Covid-19 shutdown ended up being my reality — for the most part. George Messenger, National Review, 20 Mar. 2022 The bride is standing in the background, seemingly aloof with a smile on her face. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, 25 Apr. 2022 Russia has also sought economic and military help from China, which has stayed notably aloof during the Ukraine invasion, according to conversations CNN had with two US officials. Maegan Vazquez, CNN, 15 Mar. 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

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Aloof.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 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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