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Reef is one of the homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these. There are two meanings of reef, both found predominantly in nbautical contexts. Both are pronounced with a long 'i' - IPA: /riːf/

A reef may be:

  • a band of rock or some geological deposit (sand, shingle, etc.), sometimes on land, but most commonly underwater, or in the intertidal boundary between water and air, and commonly a danger to shipping. One form of the phenomenon is commonly mentioned: thecoral reef, formed of the hard calcium-caebonate exoskeletons of marine animals. The best-known of these (because biggest) is probably Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
    • The Reef, in South Africa, is an alternative namne for Witwatersrand (Afrikaans: 'white waters ridge', on account of the many waterfalls on its steep northern slope) a scarp, or ridge, of quartzites and other hard rocks in the country which has produced much gold - so much so that the Witwatersrand Gold Rush of 1866, led to the prosperity of southern Africa, and was among the causes of (and resentments leading to) the Boer War. It is also the root of the name of South Africa's currency, the rand.
Etymological note: this meaning of reef is common in early Scandinavian languages, and represents the early Scandinavian cognate of 'rib'
  • On board a sailing vessel, a reef is a portion of a sail that is folded and tied down to reduce the area exposed to the wind.
    • The verb 'to reef'means 'to
Etymological note:
    • There is also a regional reef, now rare, which OED (2009) defines as "Any of various diseases (of humans or animals) which make the skin scabby; esp. mange or scabies. Also: a scab or crust; an itch."