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

Essential Meaning of aloof

1 : not involved with or friendly toward other people She remained aloof [=distant] despite their efforts to make friends. He held himself aloof from his coworkers. [=he was not warm or friendly toward them]
2 : not involved in or influenced by something They tried to keep/remain/stand aloof from the politics of the day.

Full 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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The museum earned a reputation from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s for adopting an aloof, unenthusiastic stance toward modern and contemporary art. Steven Litt, cleveland, 3 Oct. 2021 Druig is aloof and a bit of a loner, but in real life, Keoghan quickly hit it off with his costars. Devan Coggan,, 18 Aug. 2021 Thousands were forced into hiding while windows shattered, police watched and Mayor David Dinkins stayed aloof. Elliot Kaufman, WSJ, 20 Aug. 2021 Keoghan, who plays the aloof Druig, remembers that first day similarly. Devan Coggan,, 18 Aug. 2021 But Trump himself, who endorsed Youngkin immediately after the GOP nominating convention in May, has cautioned against being too aloof. Washington Post, 7 June 2021 Part two, set in 1978, features Sink in the lead as Vicki, a very aloof, misunderstood camper. Jessica Radlof, Glamour, 9 July 2021 And then Twig is very catlike, very aloof, very strange, very complicated. Jen Chaney, Vulture, 31 May 2021 Rodrigo has stayed professionally aloof about her personal life, letting the music do the talking. Raisa Bruner, Time, 24 May 2021

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.

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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

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Aloof.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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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