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[skif] /skɪf/
any of various types of boats small enough for sailing or rowing by one person.
Origin of skiff
early Italian
1565-75; < early Italian schifo < Old High German scif ship1
Related forms
skiffless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for skiff
Historical Examples
  • Slowly the skiff was sent up the bay, but not a strike rewarded his efforts.

    Camping on the St. Lawrence Everett T. Tomlinson
  • Laurent selected a skiff, which appeared so light that Camille was terrified by its fragility.

    Therese Raquin Emile Zola
  • The car went forward as smoothly as a skiff on a swift, smooth water.

    We Can't Have Everything Rupert Hughes
  • In about ten minutes we had him in the skiff rowing off to the Patience M.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
  • No one else could have come in this skiff, and then gone off in mine by mistake?

    Raftmates Kirk Munroe
  • He jumped to the stern and caught hold of the skiff's painter.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
  • He then leaped into the skiff, which sank as he swiftly transferred to his own vessel its two occupants.

  • I swung into the channel and set the skiff's bow against the current.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The skiff soon carried him to an armed brig, the Fell, which lay at the foot of the Richelieu Rapids.

  • There were only two oars in the skiff, but I could get on perfectly well with one.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for skiff


any of various small boats propelled by oars, sail, or motor
Word Origin
C18: from French esquif, from Old Italian schifo a boat, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German schifship
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 skiff

"small boat," 1570s, from French esquif (1540s), from Italian schifo "little boat," from a Germanic source (e.g. Old High German scif "boat;" see ship (n.)). Originally the small boat of a ship.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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