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[uh-baft, uh-bahft] /əˈbæft, əˈbɑft/ Nautical
to the rear of; aft of:
the fife rail abaft the mainmast.
in the direction of the stern; astern; aft.
Origin of abaft
1225-75; Middle English on baft, abaft, equivalent to a-1 and on on + baft, Old English bæftan contraction of be + æftan. See by1aft1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for abaft
Historical Examples
  • The sounds seem as if they are coming from the right now abaft the beam, if anything.

    Billy Barcroft, R.N.A.S. Percy F. Westerman
  • The sound came from abaft his beam and his disquietude increased.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • On the gratings around the stern, abaft the wheel, they laid her on soft cushions.

    The Pirate Woman Aylward Edward Dingle
  • Up with your helm, abaft there, and let her go off square before the wind!

    The Missing Merchantman Harry Collingwood
  • That part of the cable which is abaft the bitts, and therefore within board when the ship rides at anchor.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • "I'm on the port side just abaft the pantry," I answered, shaking him by the hand.

    A Bid for Fortune Guy Boothby
  • The three of them stood by the rail just abaft the pilot house when the Arrow turned into the half-mile breadth of Folly Bay.

    Poor Man's Rock Bertrand W. Sinclair
  • Luxury starts from abaft, and is not wholly lost, even at the fore-peak.

    The Three Cutters Captain Frederick Marryat
  • There were no deck lamps; the two skylights diffused but a sickly radiance, and I was abaft the side-lights.

    The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers
  • There was a capstan just abaft the mainmast, and here the men assembled.

British Dictionary definitions for abaft


adverb, adjective (postpositive)
closer to the stern than to another place on a vessel: with the wind abaft
behind; aft of: abaft the mast
Word Origin
C13: on baft; baft from Old English beæftan, from be by + æftan behind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for abaft

"in or at the back part of a ship" (opposed to forward), 1590s, from Middle English on baft (Old English on bæftan) "backwards." The second component is itself a compound of be "by" (see by) and æftan "aft" (see aft). The word has been saved by the sailors (the stern being the "after" part of a vessel), the rest of the language having left it in Middle English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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