noun Nautical.
the forward edge of a fore-and-aft sail. See diag. under sail.
verb (used without object)
to bring the head of a sailing ship closer to or directly into the wind, with sails shaking.
(of a sail) to shake from being set too close to the wind: The sail luffed as we put about for port.
to raise or lower the outer end of the boom of a crane or derrick so as to move its load horizontally.
verb (used with object)
to set (the helm of a ship) in such a way as to bring the head of the ship into the wind.
to raise or lower the outer end of (the boom of a crane or derrick).

1175–1225; Middle English lof, loof steering gear (compare Old French lof) < Middle Dutch (unrecorded), later Dutch loef tholepin (of tiller)

unluffed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
luff (lʌf)
1.  nautical the leading edge of a fore-and-aft sail
2.  tackle consisting of a single and a double block for use with rope having a large diameter
3.  nautical to head (a sailing vessel) into the wind so that her sails flap
4.  (intr) nautical (of a sail) to flap when the wind is blowing equally on both sides
5.  to move the jib of (a crane) or raise or lower the boom of (a derrick) in order to shift a load
[C13 (in the sense: steering gear): from Old French lof, perhaps from Middle Dutch loef peg of a tiller; compare Old High German laffa palm of hand, oar blade, Russian lapa paw]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1200, from O.Fr. lof, an obscure nautical device, or from M.Du. loef "windward side of a ship."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Did his yellow hair luff in a gust as he stood there.
Luff filed a motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence.
Image for luff
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