- She smiled and sipped her coffee, but he still heard her murmur, ‘Uncultured oaf.’
- Besides its not like me and you haven't done that before you stupid oaf!
- What a shameful exercise in valuing the life of a stupid and dangerous oaf over the lives of millions of others.
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.