from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The process of reefing (taking in a sail); an act of reefing; also used of clothing.
  • n. A reef (seam of quartz).
  • v. Present participle of reef.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The process of taking in a reef.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In upholstery, the gathering up of the material of a curtain, valance, or the like, as in short festoons.
  • n. In mining, the process of taking out ore-rock.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • What we call the reefing clew is an eye, called a reefing grommet, set into the leech of the sail.

    Sailing Fundamentals

  • A line called the reefing line is led through the grommet, down to the boom, and forward to a cleat on larger boats, there’s a winch to help tighten the line.

    Sailing Fundamentals

  • "But the Navy has told us that 'reefing' is better because it would allow divers to go down on it and would preserve

    Civil War Bookshelf

  • "That reefing device is a winner!" young Winn cried, as he climbed out.

    Winged Blackmail

  • Number Eight is ready, and I know I've at last got that reefing down fine.

    Winged Blackmail

  • Two hours afterward, on San Pablo Bay, the wind was piping up and we were reefing down.


  • I have toiled all night, both watches on deck, in a typhoon off the coast of Japan, and been less exhausted than by two hours 'work at reefing down a thirty-foot sloop and heaving up two anchors on a lee shore in a screaming south-easter.


  • But I had not reckoned upon the colossal task the reefing of three sails meant for one man.

    Chapter 39

  • I had burst open the ends of my fingers at the very first, and during the reefing I had worked with tears of pain running down my cheeks.

    Chapter 17

  • When I am on the water reefing a sail or tacking in response to the wind and the waves, everything becomes really simple.

    True Spirit


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  • "A staff writer at the Review, after seeing him more than once drive the trotter Phoebe Wilkes to 'unlikely victories,' was moved to pen this paean to McHenry's habit of 'reefing' (archaic slang meaning 'to hit with excessive force') the less-than-eager mare: here the abysmal poem is reprinted... I pause now to let the reader dry his eye."

    —Charles Leerhsen, Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch (New York and London: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 111–112

    October 23, 2008