oaf

play
noun \ ˈōf \

Definition of oaf

plural oafs
1 :a stupid person :boob
  • a thoughtless, clueless oaf
  • New York Times
2 :a big clumsy slow-witted person
  • Get out of my way, you big oaf.

oafish

play \ˈō-fish\ adjective

oafishly

adverb

oafishness

noun

oaf was our Word of the Day on 02/27/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of oaf in a Sentence

  1. it's not polite to call your brother a stupid oaf

  2. anyone who took him for an oaf and tried to cheat him would be in for a nasty surprise

Recent Examples of oaf from the Web

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

oaf Has a Fanciful History

A long time ago in England, it was believed that goblins sometimes secretly exchanged their babies for human babies. This was used as an explanation when parents found themselves with a particularly ugly or deformed child: these parents wanted to believe that their real baby had been stolen by goblins, and the other left in its place. The label for such a child was auf, or alfe (meaning "goblin's child"), terms that were later altered to form our present-day oaf. Although the linguistic history is not entirely clear, auf and alfe are likely from the Middle English alven and elven, meaning "elf" or "fairy." Today the word oaf is no longer associated with unattractive babies and is instead applied to anyone who appears especially unintelligent or graceless.

Origin and Etymology of oaf

alteration of auf, alfe goblin's child, probably from Middle English alven, elven elf, fairy, from Old English elfen nymphs; akin to Old English ælf elf — more at elf


OAF Defined for English Language Learners

oaf

play
noun

Definition of oaf for English Language Learners

  • : a stupid or awkward person


OAF Defined for Kids

oaf

play
noun \ ˈōf \

Definition of oaf for Students

:a stupid or awkward person

oafish

\ˈō-fish\ adjective


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