2 [reef] Nautical.
a part of a sail that is rolled and tied down to reduce the area exposed to the wind.
verb (used with object)
to shorten (sail) by tying in one or more reefs.
to reduce the length of (a topmast, a bowsprit, etc.), as by lowering, sliding inboard, or the like.
to pull (old oakum) out of seams, as with a rave hook (often followed by out ).

1350–1400; Middle English refe (noun) < Dutch reef

unreefed, adjective
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World English Dictionary
reef1 (riːf)
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
[C16: from Middle Dutch ref, from Old Norse rifrib1, reef²]

reef2 (riːf)
1.  the part gathered in when sail area is reduced, as in a high wind
2.  to reduce the area of (sail) by taking in a reef
3.  (tr) to shorten or bring inboard (a spar)
[C14: from Middle Dutch rif; related to Old Norse rif reef, rib1, German reffen to reef; see reef1]

Reef (riːf)
1.  another name for the Great Barrier Reef
2.  another name for the Witwatersrand

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"ridge underwater," 1584, probably via Du. riffe, from O.N. rif "ridge," lit. "rib" (see rib).

"horizontal section of sail," late 14c., from O.N. rif "reef of a sail," probably a transferred use of rif "ridge, rib" (see rib). Cf. Ger. reff, Swed. ref, Norw. riv, Dan. reb, all from the O.N. word. Reefer as a nickname for "midshipman" (1818) is source of the meaning "coat
of a nautical cut" (1878).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
reef   (rēf)  Pronunciation Key 
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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