One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in Orkney and Shetland) the area of sea used for deep-sea fishing.
- ‘The haaf floats to the top; the netsman turns his back to the tide, kills the fish with his ‘mell’, or mallet, and flings it into a special compartment - while concentrating on not being swept away by the strong tidal flow.’
- ‘The Haaf net which also rests on the sea bed is supported by a fisherman.’
- ‘Under this system the able-bodied men of the croft were away from the land for long periods engaged in the haaf or deep-sea fishing in the summer months and the herring fishing from spring until late summer.’
Late 18th century: from Old Norse haf ‘high sea, ocean’; related to Danish hav and Swedish haf.
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