1

aloof

adjective \ ə-ˈlüf \
Updated on: 11 Dec 2017

Definition of aloof

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

aloofly

adverb

aloofness

noun

Examples of aloof in a Sentence

  1. In truth, he isn't so much aloof as he is courtly in a formal, afternoon-tea sort of way. —Joe KleinTime21 July 2003
  2. 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 VidalNation12 June 1995
  3. 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 CaryBlack Ice1991
  4. 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 PlimptonFireworks1984
  5. They tried to keep aloof from the politics of the day.

  6. the new kid was really not so aloof as we thought him at first, just painfully shy

Recent Examples of aloof from the Web

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.

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.”

Origin and Etymology of aloof

see 2aloof

Synonym Discussion of 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

2

aloof

adverb \ ə-ˈlüf \

Definition of aloof

: at a distance
  • trying to keep failure aloof

Origin and Etymology of aloof

obsolete aloof to windward, from 1a- + louf, luf luff


ALOOF Defined for English Language Learners

aloof

adjective

Definition of aloof for English Language Learners

  • : not involved with or friendly toward other people

  • : not involved in or influenced by something


ALOOF Defined for Kids

1

aloof

adverb \ ə-ˈlüf \

Definition of aloof for Students

: at a distance
  • stood aloof

2

aloof

adjective

Definition of aloof for Students

: not friendly or outgoing
  • a shy aloof manner


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