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reef1

[reef] /rif/
noun
1.
a ridge of rocks or sand, often of coral debris, at or near the surface of the water.
2.
Mining. a lode or vein.
Origin
1575-1585
1575-85; earlier riff(e) < Dutch rif

reef2

[reef] /rif/
noun
1.
a part of a sail that is rolled and tied down to reduce the area exposed to the wind.
verb (used with object)
2.
to shorten (sail) by tying in one or more reefs.
3.
to reduce the length of (a topmast, a bowsprit, etc.), as by lowering, sliding inboard, or the like.
4.
to pull (old oakum) out of seams, as with a rave hook (often followed by out).
Origin
1350-1400; Middle English refe (noun) < Dutch reef
Related forms
unreefed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for reefs
  • Voracious, venomous lionfish are the first exotic species to invade coral reefs.
  • Consider the destruction of the world's coral reefs and marine fisheries.
  • There is a census of coastal waters and a census of the abyssal plains, a census of coral reefs and a census of seamounts.
  • Coral reefs, among other ecosystems, are suffering mightily at the hands of humans.
  • The oxygen byproduct is a bonus, as would be the use of low voltage currents to stimulate new growth in coral reefs, for example.
  • Most notably, the warming climate is rendering the oceans more acidic-with attendant impacts on sea life, such as coral reefs.
  • They did this by studying the natural records of climate in tree rings, ice cores from glaciers, and coral reefs.
  • It recalls ancient coral reefs in a digitally designed sculpture.
  • The park's beach is popular with snorkelers who want to explore the nearby reefs.
  • No one lives there, nor has there been any evidence that lucrative natural resources lie beneath its lagoons and reefs.
British Dictionary definitions for reefs

reef1

/riːf/
noun
1.
a ridge of rock, sand, coral, etc, the top of which lies close to the surface of the sea
2.
a ridge- or mound-like structure built by sedentary calcareous organisms (esp corals) and consisting mainly of their remains
3.
a vein of ore, esp one of gold-bearing quartz
Word Origin
C16: from Middle Dutch ref, from Old Norse rifrib1, reef²

reef2

/riːf/
noun
1.
the part gathered in when sail area is reduced, as in a high wind
verb
2.
to reduce the area of (sail) by taking in a reef
3.
(transitive) to shorten or bring inboard (a spar)
Word Origin
C14: from Middle Dutch rif; related to Old Norse rif reef, rib1, German reffen to reef; see reef1

Reef

/riːf/
noun the Reef
1.
another name for the Great Barrier Reef
2.
another name for the Witwatersrand
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 reefs

reef

n.

"rock ridge underwater," 1580s, riffe, probably via Dutch riffe, from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse rif "ridge in the sea; reef in a sail," literally "rib" (see rib (n.)).

"horizontal section of sail," late 14c. (mid-14c. in rif-rope), from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse rif "reef of a sail," probably a transferred use of rif "ridge under the sea; rib" (see rib (n.) and cf. reef (n.1)). German reff, Swedish ref, Norwegian riv, Danish reb likely all are from the Old Norse word.

v.

1660s, "take in, roll up" (as a sail on a ship), from reef (n.2). Related: Reefed; reefing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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reefs in Science
reef
  (rēf)   
A strip or ridge of rocks, sand, or coral that rises to or near the surface of a body of water. See more at coral reef.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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