Aloof Definition and Meaning: What Does Aloof Mean?

Aloof Definition

a·loof (-lf)


Distant physically or emotionally; reserved and remote: stood apart with aloof dignity.


At a distance but within view; apart.

aloof [əˈluːf]


distant, unsympathetic, or supercilious in manner, attitude, or feeling

•loof (əˈluf)


1. reserved or reticent; indifferent: to have the reputation of being aloof.


2. at a distance, esp. in feeling or interest; apart: to stand aloof from one's classmates.

Adj.1.aloof - remote in manner; "stood apart with aloof dignity"; "a distant smile"; "he was upstage with strangers"

upstage, distant

reserved - marked by self-restraint and reticence; "was habitually reserved in speech, withholding her opinion"-Victoria Sackville-West

Adv.1.aloof - in an aloof manner; "the local gentry and professional classes had held aloof for the school had accepted their sons readily enough"





at a distance, especially in feeling or interest; apart: They always stood aloof from their classmates.



reserved or reticent; indifferent; disinterested: Because of his shyness, he had the reputation of being aloof.

1525–35; - + loof luff windward

Related forms

a·loof·ly, adverb

a·loof·ness, noun

2. cool, detached; distant, standoffish; snobbish, haughty, disdainful.

1. near. 2. warm, open, gregarious, outgoing.

Word Origin & History


1530s, from a - (1) + M.E. loof "weather gage," also "windward direction," probably from Du. loef (M.Du. lof) "the weather side of a ship." Originally a nautical order to keep the ship's head to the wind, thus to stay clear of a lee-shore or some other quarter, hence the fig.

sense of "at a distance, apart" (1580s).

Origin of ALOOF

obsolete aloof to windward, from 1a- + louf, luf luff

First Known Use: 1523

Rhymes with ALOOF

behoof, bombproof, childproof, crushproof, disproof, fireproof, flameproof, foolproof, forehoof, germproof, greaseproof, heatproof, hip ro...


adjective \ə-ˈlüf\

Definition of ALOOF

: removed or distant either physically or emotionally <he stood aloof from worldly success — John Buchan>

— aloof·ly adverb

— aloof·ness noun

See aloof defined for English-language learners »

Examples of ALOOF

They tried to keep aloof from the politics of the day.

<the new kid was really not so aloof as we thought him at first, just painfully shy>

In truth, he isn't so much aloof as he is courtly in a formal, afternoon-tea sort of way. —Joe Klein, Time, 21 July 2003

Origin of ALOOF

(see 1aloof)

First Known Use: 1608

Related to ALOOF


  • cool, antisocial, asocial, buttoned-up, cold, cold-eyed, detached, distant, dry, frosty, offish, remote, standoff, standoffish, unbending, unclubbable, unsociable


  • cordial, friendly, sociable, social, warm

Related Words

  • indrawn, introverted, nongregarious, recessive, reclusive, reserved, unsocial, withdrawn; misanthropic; apathetic, hard, indifferent, unconcerned; clinical, dispassionate, impersonal, professional; disinterested, incurious, uninterested; reticent, silent, taciturn, uncommunicative; diffident, shy, timid; cliquey, cliquish, clubbish

Near Antonyms

  • boon, clubbable (also clubable), clubby, companionable, convivial, extroverted (also extraverted), gregarious, outgoing; communicative, expansive, garrulous, talkative; affable, folksy, genial, gracious, hospitable; agreeable, amiable, congenial, kindly, neighborly

Definition of aloof


  • not friendly or forthcoming; cool and distant: they were courteous but faintly aloof an aloof and somewhat austere figure

  • conspicuously uninvolved: he stayed aloof from the bickering







mid 16th century: from a2 (expressing direction) + luff=. The term was originally an adverb in nautical use, meaning 'away and to windward!', i.e. with the ship's head kept close to the wind away from a lee shore etc. towards which it might drift. From this arose the sense 'at a distance'

Example sentences for aloof

  • She appeared aloof and sometimes refused to shake hands with admirers.

  • There is something aloof within us that will not be divided or communicated.

  • And actors have to be aloof and mysterious and artistic and all that.

  • He remained aloof from the abstract movement of his time, and thus won readily the respect of the French academicians.

  • The supreme leader is supposed to stay aloof from the cut and thrust of mundane politics.

  • Ignored, she swam over to another drake, but he too remained woodenly aloof.

  • So sheltered, these later villages seem to stand outside of time, aloof to the present.

  • He held himself aloof from his chattels, though providing occasional prizes or holidays for good work.

  • Still others wanted to remain politically aloof from the wars and quarrels of the larger world.

  • That humility made her approachable rather than aloof .

  • His aloof, innovative approach to the simple story says as much as the plot itself in which two cousins symbolize polar opposites.

  • He held himself aloof from womankind...

  • The latter seems to be warm and friendly, but aloof and lacking any poise.
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