1 [lohf]
noun, plural loaves [lohvz] .
a portion of bread or cake baked in a mass, usually oblong with a rounded top.
a shaped or molded mass of food, as of sugar or chopped meat: a veal loaf.
the rounded head of a cabbage, lettuce, etc.
Slang: Older Use. head or brains: Use your loaf.

before 950; Middle English lo(o)f, Old English hlāf loaf, bread; cognate with German Laib, Old Norse hleifr, Gothic hlaifs

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2 [lohf] .
verb (used without object)
to idle away time: He figured the mall was as good a place as any for loafing.
to lounge or saunter lazily and idly: We loafed for hours along the water's edge.
verb (used with object)
to pass idly (usually followed by away ): to loaf one's life away.

1825–35, Americanism; back formation from loafer

unloafing, adjective

2. loll, idle.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
loaf1 (ləʊf)
n , pl loaves
1.  a shaped mass of baked bread
2.  any shaped or moulded mass of food, such as cooked meat
3.  slang the head; sense: use your loaf!
[Old English hlāf; related to Old High German hleib bread, Old Norse hleifr, Latin libum cake]

loaf2 (ləʊf)
vb (foll by away)
1.  (intr) to loiter or lounge around in an idle way
2.  to spend (time) idly: he loafed away his life
[C19: perhaps back formation from loafer]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. hlaf "bread, loaf," from P.Gmc. *khlaibuz (cf. O.N. hleifr, Swed. lev, Ger. Laib, Goth. hlaifs), of uncertain origin, perhaps connected to O.E. hlifian "to raise higher, tower," on the notion of the bread rising as it bakes, but it is unclear whether "loaf" or "bread" is the original sense. O.C.S.
chlebu, Finn. leipä, Lith. klepas probably are Gmc. loan words. Meaning "chopped meat shaped like a bread loaf" is attested from 1787.

1835, Amer.Eng., back-formation from loafer (1830), which often is regarded as a variant of land loper (1795), a partial loan-translation of Ger. Landläufer "vagabond," from Land "land" + Läufer "runner," from laufen "to run" (see leap). But OED finds this "not very probable."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see half a loaf is better than none.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Alternatively, roll the dough into a loaf and chop off slices.
Pour an equal portion of the mousse into each of the prepared loaf pans.
Many other settled for half a loaf rather than get nothing.
Cut two or three slashes on top of each loaf using a sharp serrated knife.
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