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Autumn leaves wafting in the breeze


From Middle English waften, from Middle Dutch wachten or Middle Low German wachten (to guard). The current senses derive from the original sense “be carried by water”. See also waif.



waft (third-person singular simple present wafts, present participle wafting, simple past and past participle wafted)

  1. (ergative) To (cause to) float easily or gently through the air.
    A breeze came in through the open window and wafted her sensuous perfume into my eager nostrils.
  2. (intransitive) To be moved, or to pass, on a buoyant medium; to float.
    • 1675, John Dryden, Aureng-zebe, London: [s.n.], OCLC 497010563, Act III, scene i; republished as “Aureng-Zebe, a Tragedy”, in Walter Scott, editor, The Works of John Dryden, now First Collected in Eighteen Volumes. Illustrated with Notes, Historical, Critical, and Explanatory, and a Life of the Author, by Walter Scott, Esq., volume V, London: Printed for William Miller, Albemarle Street, by James Ballantyne and Co. Edinburgh, 1808, OCLC 317070632, page 226:
      Unhappy Aureng-Zebe is in disgrace; / And your Morat, proclaimed the successor, / Is called, to awe the city with his power. / Those trumpets his triumphant entry tell, / And now the shouts waft near the citadel.
  3. To give notice to by waving something; to wave the hand to; to beckon.



waft (plural wafts)

  1. A light breeze.
  2. Something (such as an odor or scent like a perfume) that is carried through the air.
    • 1908, Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, London: Methuen, →ISBN:
      Meanwhile, the wafts from his old home pleaded, whispered, conjured, and finally claimed him imperiously.
    • 2010 September, “The SLM Calendar”, in St. Louis Magazine, volume 16, number 9, St. Louis, Mo.: Hartmann Pub. Co., ISSN 1090-5723, page 170:
      Patrol Magazine says of this Oxford, Miss., band: "Guitars are responsible for every noise in Colour Revolt's mix—not a single note of piano, waft of synthesizer, or evidence of electronic tampering are to be found. []"
  3. (nautical) A flag used to indicate wind direction or, with a knot tied in the center, as a signal; a waif, a wheft.