Etymology
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luff (n.)

also loof, in sailing, c. 1200, "contrivance for altering a ship's course," also "part of a ship's bow where the sides begin to curve," from Old French lof "spar," or some other nautical device, "point of sail," also "windward side," of uncertain origin and sense development, probably ultimately from Germanic (compare Middle Dutch lof "windward side of a ship" (Dutch loef), which might also be the direct source of the English word).

This is from Proto-Germanic *lofo (source also of Old Norse lofi, Gothic lofa "palm of the hand," Danish lab, Swedish labb "paw"), from PIE *lep- (2) "to be flat" (see glove (n.)). As a verb, "bring the head of a sailing-ship nearer the wind," from late 14c., from the noun.

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Definitions of luff
1
luff (v.)
sail close to the wind;
Synonyms: point
luff (v.)
flap when the wind is blowing equally on both sides;
the sails luffed
2
luff (n.)
(nautical) the forward edge of a fore-and-aft sail that is next to the mast;
luff (n.)
the act of sailing close to the wind;
From wordnet.princeton.edu