noun pl. loaves,
- A shaped mass of bread baked in one piece.
- A shaped, usually rounded or oblong, mass of food: veal loaf.
Origin of loaf
Middle English lof from
Old English hlāf from
Proto-Germanic hlaibaz perhaps from the same European substrate source as
Greek klībanos, krībanos earthen vessel for baking, tandoor Word History: Loaf, lord,
are closely related words that testify to bread's fundamental importance in the Middle Ages. Curiously, though bread was a staple food in many Indo-European cultures, loaf
and its cognates occur only in the Germanic languages, and lord
only in English. Loaf
derives from Old English hlāf,
“bread, loaf of bread,” related to Gothic hlaifs,
Old Norse hleifr,
and Modern German Laib,
all of which mean “loaf of bread.” Hlāf
survives in Lammas,
“Loaf-Mass,” the Christian Feast of the First Fruits, traditionally celebrated on August 1. Lord
comes from Old English hlāford,
a compound meaning “loaf-ward, keeper of bread,” because a lord maintains and feeds his household and offers hospitality. Similarly, lady
derives from Old English hlǣfdige,
which became lady
by 1382. The -dige
comes from dæge,
“kneader,” and is related to our dough.
A lady, therefore, is “a kneader of bread, a breadmaker.” Lord
both retain vestiges of their original meanings, although England's aristocrats have not been elbow deep in flour, let alone dough, for several centuries.
intransitive verbloafed, loaf·ing, loafs
To pass time at leisure; idle.
Origin of loaf
Probably back-formation from loafer
- (also loaf of bread) A block of bread after baking.
- Any solid block of food, such as meat or sugar.
- (Cockney rhyming slang) Shortened from "loaf of bread", the brain or the head (mainly in the phrase use one's loaf).
- A solid block of soap, from which standard bars are cut.
From Middle English lof, laf, from Old English hlÄf (“loaf, cake, bread, food, sacramental bread"), from Proto-Germanic *hlaibaz (“bread, loaf"), of uncertain origin. Perhaps related to Old English hlÄ«fan (“to stand out prominently, tower up"). Cognate with Scots laif (“loaf"), German Laib (“loaf"), Swedish lev (“loaf"), Russian Ñ…Ð»ÐµÐ± (hleb, “bread, loaf").
(third-person singular simple present loafs, present participle loafing, simple past and past participle loafed)
- (intransitive) To do nothing, to be idle.
- loaf about, loaf around.
- (Cockney rhyming slang) To headbutt, (from loaf of bread)
Probably a back-formation from loafer.