There are 2 main definitions of reef in English:

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reef1

Syllabification: reef
Pronunciation: /rēf
 
/

noun

1A ridge of jagged rock, coral, or sand just above or below the surface of the sea.
Example sentences
  • Below are beautiful coral reefs, turtles, sharks and a clean ocean floor.
  • To illustrate the point, Knowlton offers the example of coral reefs, which she describes as the most diverse ecosystems in the world.
  • Mostly we dived shallow coral reefs in the order of 12m deep and less.
Synonyms
Canadian & Scottish skerry
1.1Australian & South African A metalliferous mineral deposit, especially one that is bedded and contains gold.
Example sentences
  • Apparently, three of the Struben brothers' workers were among those who struck gold in the main reef.
  • 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.
  • The story of gold is told in a bus tour taking in the site where Harrison identified the gold reef in Langlaagte.

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 reef2.

More
  • A coral reef is often curved in the shape of a rib, which is the origin of the word, as it comes from Old Norse rif ‘rib, reef’.

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There are 2 main definitions of reef in English:

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reef2

Syllabification: reef
Pronunciation: /rēf
 
/
Sailing

noun

Each of the several strips across a sail that can be taken in or rolled up to reduce the area exposed to the wind.
Example sentences
  • We had to sail her with ‘two reefs in’, a reduced sail area for the rough conditions.

verb

[with object] Back to top  
Take in one or more reefs of (a sail): reefing the mainsail in strong winds
More example sentences
  • Early on, the wind filled to 18 knots and the yachts were forced to reef their mainsails and change headsails under difficult conditions.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Origin

Middle English: from Middle Dutch reef, rif, from Old Norse rif, literally 'rib', used in the same sense; compare with reef1.

More
  • A coral reef is often curved in the shape of a rib, which is the origin of the word, as it comes from Old Norse rif ‘rib, reef’.

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