Definition of luff in US English:

luff

noun

  • The edge of a fore-and-aft sail next to the mast or stay.

    • ‘Nonchalant references to booms and jibs and kites and cleats and luffs and lees and heeling and tacking and pointing high can leave the nautical ingénue helpless in a riptide of argot.’

verb

[no object]
  • 1Steer a yacht nearer the wind.

    ‘all you need to do is luff up, head to wind’
    • ‘If it's a sailboat, luff it up into the wind and drift to a complete stop, then allow it to sail backwards - a boat-length is long enough to appease the spirits.’
    1. 1.1with object Obstruct (an opponent in yacht racing) by sailing closer to the wind.
      ‘he can luff you, but must leave you room to get clear’
      • ‘It was in full sail close to us, luffing a little and standing across our course, and so close we had to strike sail to avoid running foul of her, while they too turned hard to let us pass.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French lof, probably from Low German.

Pronunciation

luff

/ləf//ləf/