From Middle English ref, hreof, from Old English hrēof (“rough, scabby, leprous", also "a leper”), from Proto-Germanic *hreubaz (“rough, scabby, scrubby”), from Proto-Indo-European *kreup- (“scab, crust”), related to Old English hrēofla (“leprosy, leper”). Cognate with Scots reif (“a skin disease leaving crusts on the skin, the scab”), Old High German riob (“leprous, scabby, mangy”), Icelandic hrjúfur (“scabby, rough”). Compare riffe, dandruff.
- (Now chiefly dialectal) The itch; any eruptive skin disorder.
- (Now chiefly dialectal) Dandruff.
From earlier riff, from Middle English rif, from Old Norse rif (“rib, reef”), from Proto-Germanic *ribją (“rib, reef”), from Proto-Indo-European *rebh- (“arch, ceiling, cover”). Cognate with Dutch rif (“reef”), Low German riff, reff (“reef”), German Riff (“reef, ledge”), Old English ribb (“rib”). More at rib.
- A chain or range of rocks, sand, or coral lying at or near the surface of the water.
- (Australia, South Africa) A large vein of auriferous quartz; hence, any body of rock yielding valuable ore.
- (nautical) A portion of a sail rolled and tied down to lessen the area exposed in a high wind.
- A reef knot.
reef was also found in the following language(s): Dutch