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[waft, wahft] /wæft, wɑft/
verb (used with object)
to carry lightly and smoothly through the air or over water:
The gentle breeze wafted the sound of music to our ears.
to send or convey lightly, as if in flight:
The actress wafted kisses to her admirers in the audience.
Obsolete. to signal to, summon, or direct by waving.
verb (used without object)
to float or be carried, especially through the air:
The sound wafted on the breeze. The music wafted across the lake.
a sound, odor, etc., faintly perceived:
a waft of perfume.
a wafting movement; light current or gust:
a waft of air.
the act of wafting.
Also, waif. Nautical. a signal given by waving a flag.
Origin of waft
late Middle English
1535-45; back formation from late Middle English waughter armed escort vessel < Dutch or Low German wachter watchman; in some senses confused with waff
Related forms
wafter, noun
unwafted, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for waft
  • Kim's suggestions are a coffee percolator and a fan, perfect to waft you gently from sleep to wakefulness with minimal distress.
  • Tempting aromas waft from the many food stalls and sidewalk restaurants.
  • Smoldering mulch embers waft up from a trench and are blown toward the dummy home.
  • They soak up sounds that waft from the arena on warm breezes.
  • The barriers could be tuned to block highway noise, while holes or spaces in the structure would allow birdsong to waft through.
  • Buyers who want their cars to waft along, smothering out the road's irregularities and keeping quiet about it.
  • The aromas waft from the pot in an intoxicating cloud, rich and fragrant, but with a bracingly acidic undernote.
  • Since thick leathery petals do not readily disintegrate, their molecules do not waft into the air.
  • Canola pollen can waft spliced genes more than a mile, and common crops can hybridize with completely unrelated weeds.
  • She disliked the smell of victory that seemed to waft right from the gardener's stale clothes.
British Dictionary definitions for waft


/wɑːft; wɒft/
to carry or be carried gently on or as if on the air or water
the act or an instance of wafting
something, such as a scent, carried on the air
a wafting motion
(nautical) Also called waif. (formerly) a signal flag hoisted furled to signify various messages depending on where it was flown
Derived Forms
waftage, noun
Word Origin
C16 (in obsolete sense: to convey by ship): back formation from C15 wafter a convoy vessel, from Middle Dutch wachter guard, from wachten to guard; influenced by waff
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 waft

1510s, "to carry over water," back-formation from obsolete wafter "convoy ship" (late 15c.), from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German wachter "a guard," from wachten "to guard," related to waken "rouse from sleep" (see wake (n.1)). The meaning "pass through air or space, float" is first attested 1704, and possibly shows some influence of northern dialect waff "cause to move to and fro" (1510s), a variant of wave. Related: Wafted; wafting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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