1 of 2


: the act of sailing a ship nearer the wind
: the forward edge of a fore-and-aft sail


2 of 2


luffed; luffing; luffs

intransitive verb

: to turn the head of a ship toward the wind

Examples of luff in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
This alleviates a once-common issue where the luff tape or bolt rope on large sailing yachts became chaffed by the compression of the battens, which often caused the in-boom furling mainsails to fail. Julia Zaltzman, Robb Report, 15 Mar. 2024 The luff along the edges, the abundance of wind along the reach of the river, the arch and tip of the boat in relation to the air and the water; a boy, one hand on his tiller, the other on the rope, ducking down but not far enough. David Means, Harper's Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021
Smaller cranes, such as luffing or mobile cranes, are laid flat on the ground during a storm and do not pose a threat. Rene Rodriguez, miamiherald, 5 Sep. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'luff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English lof spar holding out the windward tack of a sail, weather side of a ship, from Anglo-French

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of luff was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near luff

Cite this Entry

“Luff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to sail toward the wind
luff noun
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