Main definitions of reef in English

: reef1reef2

reef1

noun

  • 1A ridge of jagged rock, coral, or sand just above or below the surface of the sea.

    • ‘On the sandbar you will have several hours to relax or snorkel the surrounding reefs.’
    • ‘The state is funding a long-term program to build artificial oyster reefs from shells recycled by North Carolina restaurants.’
    • ‘Returning from it, however, his vessel catches on a reef off the coast of Florida.’
    • ‘Waterfront homeowners also will be encouraged to restore oyster reefs in their own backyards.’
    • ‘Boats can be hired for passage to outer islands and fringing reefs.’
    • ‘To illustrate the point, Knowlton offers the example of coral reefs, which she describes as the most diverse ecosystems in the world.’
    • ‘The Federal Government has awarded Geraldton nearly $250,000 to develop an artificial reef off the coast.’
    • ‘Whatever your reason, diving a tropical reef is as good as it gets.’
    • ‘They're ringed by one of the world's largest barrier reefs and home to outstanding diving and fishing.’
    • ‘Mexico's Caribbean has outstanding reefs teeming with corals and fish life.’
    • ‘On a shallow rocky reef, two silvery sea bass accompany us during a 45-minute dive.’
    • ‘Pieces of its wreckage can be found all over this rocky coastal reef.’
    • ‘They are fairly active and can be seen exploring rocky reefs and the ocean bottom in search of food.’
    • ‘Representatives of Baker's Bay say the project will not damage the reef.’
    • ‘Many of these shallower coral reefs are in pristine condition.’
    • ‘Tourists visit Mayan ruins, take jungle safaris, and explore a long barrier reef.’
    • ‘Mostly we dived shallow coral reefs in the order of 12m deep and less.’
    • ‘Below are beautiful coral reefs, turtles, sharks and a clean ocean floor.’
    • ‘Although enforcement alone can't protect the reefs, cooperation can.’
    • ‘Today, most of the country's southeast coast is surrounded by man-made reefs, which are harvested commercially.’
    shoal, bar, sandbar, sandbank, spit
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A vein of ore in the earth, especially one containing gold.
      • ‘This town grew up to serve the gold mining industry and took its name from quartz-bearing reefs discovered in the area in 1871.’
      • ‘The wealth from those fields helped finance the exploitation of the greatest gold reef in the world, which was discovered on the Witwatersrand in 1886.’
      • ‘The search for gold spread, and in 1886 the main reef at Langlaagte in Johannesburg was discovered.’
      • ‘Then there is the historical aspect of the reef, which brings into focus the reef as resource, a story of commodities and extractive industries, from fishing to mining.’
      • ‘This is in marked contrast to those reefs close to the mine that are regularly affected by high sediment loads carried by the plume.’
      • ‘The technique was to go slowly back and forth parallel to the shore on the basalt reef and locate any fissure veins containing copper or other minerals.’
      • ‘After the alluvial gold had been mined, companies were formed to start reef mining.’
      • ‘The city's population grew during that decade from 70,000 to over 500,000, as fortunes were won and lost on the nearby gold reefs.’
      • ‘Lack of investment led to the closure of the once-rich reefs and, more recently, gold itself has lost its glitter and become just another mineral deposit.’
      • ‘The story of gold is told in a bus tour taking in the site where Harrison identified the gold reef in Langlaagte.’
      • ‘By July though, it was reported from Beltana that no payable gold had been found, but that some good reefs had been taken up.’
      • ‘In its pomp KGF was the wealthiest gold reef in the British Empire, with the deepest shaft at Champion Reef.’
      • ‘On the Witwatersrand the gold-bearing rock was discovered in outcrops on the surface, but within a few years it became clear that the deposits followed reefs deep underground sloping to the south.’
      • ‘As reclamation began, people came to live here, and through coal mining the reef started to expand continuously.’
      • ‘Apparently, three of the Struben brothers' workers were among those who struck gold in the main reef.’
      • ‘Instead, it really does consist of a large number of small reefs, in fact if you look at a map in the museum behind us you'd see very clearly that it's not one continuous solid reef.’
      • ‘How diverse the land is here; desert and limestone cliffs are a stone's throw from the reef.’
      • ‘The reef mines sank far underground, and used expensive machinery and complex metallurgical processes to separate the gold from the waste rock.’
      • ‘On 21 February there were clashes between police and the strikers across the reef, from Benoni to Fordsburg.’
      • ‘Most of the ‘Cape Blue’ crocidolite was mined from seven reefs, each several metres thick.’

Origin

Late 16th century (earlier as riff): from Middle Low German and Middle Dutch rif, ref, from Old Norse rif, literally ‘rib’, used in the same sense; compare with reef.

Pronunciation

reef

/riːf/

Main definitions of reef in English

: reef1reef2

reef2

noun

Sailing
  • Each of the several strips across a sail which can be taken in or rolled up to reduce the area exposed to the wind.

    • ‘We had to sail her with ‘two reefs in’, a reduced sail area for the rough conditions.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]Sailing
  • 1Take in one or more reefs of (a sail)

    ‘reef the mainsail in strong winds’
    • ‘The topmen were reefing in the sail to match the speed of the * flagship * of their little band.’
    • ‘As they approached the coast of Western Australia the wind blew too heavily for the ship to make landfall and they had to heave to with close reefed topsails.’
    • ‘As the sails were reefed, her forward motion dropped to a minimum.’
    • ‘Tahr perched herself precariously on the window ledge watching the evening activity along the wharves: fishing boats being tied, cargo being unloaded, sails being reefed and mended.’
    • ‘Perhaps they hadn't figured out how to reef a sail 600 years ago.’
    • ‘Finding that they had not been making sufficient way to windward, Nares ordered the sails reefed and steam power used instead.’
    • ‘They clustered here and there in little clumps, whispering, while Reynard's crew scurried around reefing the sails.’
    • ‘With some difficulty, the crew members slowly reef, or reduce, the sail.’
    • ‘In the short term, I think we're just going to have to reef in the sails and hold on tight.’
    • ‘I can raise and strike a sail, reef it and stow it.’
    • ‘The rule is: when you first think about reefing, reef, because, the second time you won't have time.’
    • ‘Captain Valentine ordered his men to reef the sails and lower the anchors, while he once again reminded Jose and the young boy about their jobs.’
    • ‘Having all but the mizzen sail reefed, he bade Lasky a goodnight.’
    • ‘Early on, the wind filled to 18 knots and the yachts were forced to reef their mainsails and change headsails under difficult conditions.’
    • ‘Sailors hop to it, and in an emergency, they can be counted on to reef the mainsail and batten down the hatches.’
    • ‘The sail were loosed and reefed, furled and unfurled, braces manned, halyards tested.’
    1. 1.1 Shorten (a topmast or a bowsprit).
      • ‘Even if the sails were incomplete, couldn't they have been reefed down, rip-stopped, patched, or sewed?’

Origin

Middle English: from Middle Dutch reef, rif, from Old Norse rif, literally ‘rib’, used in the same sense; compare with reef.

Pronunciation

reef

/riːf/