Where Did the Word “Aloof” Come From For Someone Detached and What Does it Mean?

If someone is emotionally or physically reserved, we say they are “aloof.”

This remoteness is sometimes interpreted as being regally snobbish or simply shy.

Aloof is derived from the nautical word loof, which in early sixteenth-century English meant “windward direction” or “the weather side of the ship.”

The helmsman directed the ship into the wind to keep from being blown onto coastal rocks.

He was ordered to keep his distance from the shore with the order “Hold a-loof,” which is how aloof took on the general meaning of “keeping clear.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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