duf·​fer | \ ˈdə-fər How to pronounce duffer (audio) \

Definition of duffer

1a : a peddler especially of cheap flashy articles
b : something counterfeit or worthless
2 : an incompetent, ineffectual, or clumsy person especially : a mediocre golfer
3 Australia : a cattle rustler

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Duffers have never really been straight shooters-on or off the golf course. The original duffers of the mid-18th century were shysters of the first order, merchants who palmed off trashy goods as if they were highly valuable (they often implied to unwary buyers that the goods had been smuggled and were very rare). Over time, the meaning of duffer was extended from a no-good peddler to anyone who was "no good," not just because the individual had low morals, but because he or she was incompetent or stupid. The term has been applied to hopelessly bad golfers since the late 19th century.

Examples of duffer in a Sentence

We joined the other duffers at the course. He's a lovable old duffer.

Recent Examples on the Web

Like a duffer teeing off into a stiff wind, startups that want to sell to the golf industry face a few challenges. Scott Kirsner, BostonGlobe.com, "How golf startups are bringing innovation to a tradition-steeped game," 25 May 2018 That’s quite a bit more than the average weekend duffer, who plays about 46 rounds a year, according to a 2009 Golf Magazine survey. Nestor Ramos, BostonGlobe.com, "Does anyone really care about presidential golf (or hypocrisy)?," 8 Jan. 2018 With the Rancho Park Golf Course and the Hillcrest Country Club sitting to the west, there are plenty of nearby greens to conquer for avid duffers. Scott Garner, latimes.com, "Neighborhood Spotlight: Beverlywood's postwar modesty has worn off," 15 Dec. 2017 The Duffers have promised that Season 2 will bring justice for Barb, but now the TV Academy has done them one better. Laura Bradley, HWD, "An Emmy Nomination Is Truly Justice for Barb," 13 July 2017 The Duffers have promised that Season 2 will bring justice for Barb, but now the TV Academy has done them one better. Laura Bradley, vanityfair.com, "An Emmy Nomination Is Truly Justice for Barb," 13 July 2017 A third type, largely written by former staff writers at Sports Illustrated or Esquire, tells the duffer’s side of things. Jay Caspian Kang, New York Times, "with the headline: How Golf Makes You Confront Your Mortality.," 14 June 2016 For the duffers, the Park District runs a nine-hole par three golf course suitable for all levels of play (2130 Drury Lane, 847-548-4713, glpd.com/grayslake-golf-course/general-golf-course-info/). Jim Newton, chicagotribune.com, "Grayslake: Where time moves forward and stands still," 22 June 2017 Minutes after his round on Saturday, Spieth’s deliberations on this routine golf conundrum would sound familiar to any weekend duffer. Bill Pennington, New York Times, "Jordan Spieth, Inside His Own Head, Struggles to Get Out," 17 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'duffer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of duffer

1756, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for duffer

perhaps from duff, noun, something worthless

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about duffer

Listen to Our Podcast about duffer

Statistics for duffer

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for duffer

The first known use of duffer was in 1756

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for duffer



English Language Learners Definition of duffer

chiefly US : a person who plays golf without much skill
British : a clumsy or awkward person

More from Merriam-Webster on duffer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with duffer

Comments on duffer

What made you want to look up duffer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!