LOAF, properly the mass of bread made at one baking, hence the smaller portions into which the bread is divided for retailing. These are of uniform size (see BAKING) and are named according to shape ("tin loaf," "cottage loaf," etc.), weight ("quartern loaf," etc.), or quality of flour (" brown loaf," etc.). " Loaf," O.E. ftldf, is a word common to Teutonic languages; cf. Ger. Laib, or Leib, Dan. lev, Goth, hlaifs; similar words with the same meaning are found in Russian, Finnish and Lettish, but these may have been. adapted from Teutonic. The ultimate origin is unknown, and it is uncertain whether " bread " (q.v.) or " loaf " is the earlier in usage. The O.E. hldf is seen in " Lammas " and in " lord," i.e. hlaford for hlafweard, the loafkeeper, or " bread- warder "; cf. the O.E. word for a household servant hldf-ceia, loaf-eater. The Late Lat. companio, one who shares, panis, bread, Eng. " companion," was probably an adaptation of the Goth, gahlaiba, O.H. Ger. gileipo, messmate, comrade. The word " loaf " is also used in sugar manufacture, and is applied to sugar shaped in a mass like a cone, a " sugarloaf," and to the small knobs into which refined sugar is cut, or " loaf-sugar."
The etymology of the verb " to joaf," i.e. to idle, lounge about, and the substantive " loafer," an idler, a lazy vagabond, has been much discussed. R. H. Dana (Two Years before the Mast, 1840) called the word " a newly invented Yankee word." J. R. Lowell (Biglow Papers, 2nd series, Introd.) explains it as German in origin, and connects it with laufen, to run, and states that the dialectical form lofen is used in the sense of " saunter up and down." This explanation has been generally accepted. The Ntw English Dictionary rejects it, however, and states that laufen is not used in this sense, but points out that the German Landldufer, the English obsolete word " landlouper," or " landloper," one who wanders about the country, a vagrant or vagabond, has a resemblance in meaning. J. S. Farmer and W. E. Henley's Dictionary of Slang and its Analogues gives as French synonyms of " loafer," chevalier de la loupe and loupeur. _, LOAM (O.E. Idm; the word appears in Dut. leem and Ger. Lehm; the ultimate origin is the root lai-, meaning " to be sticky," which is seen in the cognate " lime," Lat. limus, mud, clay), a fertile soil composed of a mixture of sand, clay, and decomposed vegetable matter, the quantity of sand being sufficient to prevent the clay massing together. The word is also used of a mixture of sand, clay and straw, used for making casting-moulds and bricks, and for plastering walls, etc. (see SOIL).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)