- That is, I am insensitive, brutal, clumsy and a big oaf.
- Our branch contains a fair number of clumsy oafs and we own a hard boat with plenty of deck space for stumbling about.
- Seriously, if a man is a clumsy oaf before you met him, he'll always have that streak of clumsiness.
Early 17th century: variant of obsolete auf, from Old Norse álfr 'elf'. The original meaning was 'elf's child, changeling', later 'idiot child' and 'halfwit', generalized in the current sense.
The word oaf goes back to Old Norse alfr ‘an elf’. It originally meant ‘an elf's child, a changeling’, and from this came to be used for ‘an idiot child’, and then ‘fool’ or ‘halfwit’. Finally, in the early 20th century, it acquired the general sense of ‘large clumsy man’, a sense used by Rudyard Kipling in The Islanders (1903) when he referred to cricketers and footballers as ‘flannelled fools at the wicket’ and ‘muddied oafs at the goals’.
Words that rhyme with oafloaf
What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?
Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.