From northern Middle High German schief, schīf (etc.), from Middle Low German schêf, from Old Saxon *skêf. Regular High German cognates exist only in north-western Central German; compare Central Franconian scheif, northernmost Luxembourgish scheef. Otherwise it was borrowed from Low German into the colonial dialects, i.e. East Central German, with fallible phonetic interpretation of the original form (hence variously -ie-, -ī-, -ē-, -ei-, -b-, -f-, etc.). The word established itself in standard German during the 18th century. Cognate with Dutch scheef, Old English *sc(e)āf (in scāffōt), Old Norse skeifr.


  • IPA(key): /ʃiːf/
  • Rhymes: -iːf
  • (file)
  • (inflected forms:) IPA(key): /ʃiːf-/ (standard)
  • (inflected forms:) IPA(key): /ʃiːv-/ (many speakers in northern and central Germany)


schief (comparative schiefer, superlative am schiefsten)

  1. skew, oblique, askew, leaning, slanting, aslant, inclined (neither parallel nor perpendicular)
  2. slopy, sloping (characterised by a slope or slopes)
  3. crooked, awry (set at an angle; not vertical or square)
  4. lopsided (not even or balanced; not the same on one side as on the other)
  5. (of facial expressions) wry (turned away, contorted)
  6. (of an image) distorted (misshapen; brought out of shape)
  7. worn (damaged and shabby as a result of much use)
  8. (figurative) inappropriate (not suitable for the situation, time, or place)



Derived termsEdit



  1. crookedly, at an angle
  2. lopsidedly
  3. (figurative) askance (sideways; obliquely)
  4. badly, wrong (in a way that isn't right)

Further readingEdit