Trend Watch

Gaffe

When:

Lookups spiked on June 12, 2012.

Why:

The word was widely used in commentaries about President Obama's remark that the private sector is "doing fine."

For example, according to a headline from The Atlantic, "Romney Finally Has an Obama Gaffe He Can Work With."

Gaffe means "a mistake made in a social situation" or "a noticeable mistake."

In French, gaffe originally meant "boat hook." Sailors' slang for the mistakes of inexperienced shipmates probably evolved into the word's current meaning.

How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears