from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The elected president of a town council in some parts of Canada.
  • n. Any of various minor officers of parishes or other local authorities.
  • n. A bailiff or steward of a manor in the later medieval period.
  • n. A high officer of local administration appointed by the Anglo-Saxon kings.
  • transitive v. Nautical To pass (a rope or rod) through a hole, ring, pulley, or block.
  • transitive v. Nautical To fasten by passing through or around.
  • transitive v. Nautical To pass a rope or rod through (a hole, ring, pulley, or block).
  • n. The female ruff.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of several local officials, with varying responsibilities.
  • n. The president of a township or municipal district council.
  • n. A proposed but unadopted commissioned rank of the Royal Air Force equivalent to wing commander.
  • n. A female of the species Philomachus pugnax, a highly gregarious, medium-sized wading bird of Eurasia; the male is a ruff.
  • v. To pass a rope through a hole or opening, especially so as to fasten it.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The female of the ruff.
  • n. an officer, steward, bailiff, or governor; -- used chiefly in compounds
  • transitive v. To pass, as the end of a pope, through any hole in a block, thimble, cleat, ringbolt, cringle, or the like.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • An obsolete variant of reave.
  • Nautical, to pass or run through any hole in a block, thimble, cleat, ring-bolt, cringle, etc., as the end of a rope.
  • To run (a ship) through narrow channels in a shoal or through openings in an ice-pack, after the fashion of a rope through the hole in a block, etc.
  • n. A steward; a prefect; a bailiff; a business agent.
  • n. A foreman in a coal-mine.
  • n. A bird, the female of the ruff, Machetes pugnax, See Pavoncella, and cut under ruff.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. fasten by passing through a hole or around something
  • v. pass a rope through
  • v. pass through a hole or opening
  • n. female ruff


Middle English, from Old English gerēfa.
Origin unknown.
Probably alteration of ruff1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English rēfa, an aphetism of ġerēfa. (Wiktionary)



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  • senior officer of a borough

    August 26, 2008

  • ...carrying the line high aloft and then reeving it downwards through a block towards the tub, so as in the act of coiling to free it from all possible wrinkles and twists.

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 60

    July 26, 2008