gaff

1 of 5

noun (1)

1
a
: a handled hook for holding or lifting heavy fish
b
: a spear or spearhead for taking fish or turtles
c
: a metal spur for a gamecock
d
: a butcher's hook
e
: a climbing iron or its steel point
2
: the spar (see spar entry 1 sense 2a) on which the head of a fore-and-aft sail is extended
3
: gaffe

gaff

2 of 5

verb (1)

gaffed; gaffing; gaffs

transitive verb

1
: to strike or secure with a spear or hook
gaff a salmon
2
: to fit (a gamecock) with a metal spur

gaff

3 of 5

noun (2)

1
a
: something painful or difficult to bear : ordeal
usually used in the phrase stand the gaff
especially : persistent raillery or criticism
b
: rough treatment : abuse
2
a
: hoax, fraud
b

gaff

4 of 5

verb (2)

gaffed; gaffing; gaffs

transitive verb

1
: deceive, trick
also : fleece
2
: to fix for the purpose of cheating
gaff the dice

gaff

5 of 5

noun (3)

British
: a cheap theater or music hall

Examples of gaff in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
That starts with careful gaff placement to avoid ruining meat. Tom Fowlks, Outdoor Life, 1 Feb. 2024 As soon as my dad reached over to grab that monster with the gaff hook, the fish’s mouth opened and the hook fell out. Idaho Statesman, 2 Mar. 2016 The swordfish then looped back around and charged the boat again, where Cruz hit it with a second flying gaff just behind the shoulder. Dac Collins, Outdoor Life, 22 Nov. 2023 Ensure access to clothing and toiletry items consistent with a person’s gender identity, and facilitate access to gender-affirming items such as binders, wigs, and gaffs. Emily Barnes, USA TODAY, 27 Aug. 2023 Important Michigan fishing regulations Lawful fishing methods include artificial lights, bait, bow fishing, crayfish, dip nets, drop-shotting, gaffs, hand nets, hook-and-line fishing, hoop nets, spearing and minnows for personal use. Mika Travis, Detroit Free Press, 26 July 2023 View Photos Several internal modifications have also helped the 301 stand the gaff of nine pounds of boost. Don Sherman, Car and Driver, 1 May 2023 Can artificial intelligence make errors? Writers have prodded some eyepopping gaffs out of ChatGPT, the Kleenex of generative AI platforms. Mike Feibus, USA TODAY, 14 Apr. 2023 The money raised will be used to purchase 10,000 chest binders and gaffs (undergarments that flatten the chest and genital areas, respectively), provide hormone replacement therapy and fund gender-affirming surgeries. Daysia Tolentino, NBC News, 31 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gaff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

borrowed from French gaffe, going back to Middle French, borrowed from Old Occitan gaf, probably derivative of gafar "to seize," of obscure origin

Note: Middle English gaffe, occurring in the early 14th-century "Kildare Poems" (British Library MS Harley 913) and glossed "iron hook" in the Middle English Dictionary, is of uncertain relation to the modern word. It predates attestations of the word in French.

Verb (1)

derivative of gaff entry 1

Noun (2)

of obscure origin

Verb (2)

probably derivative of gaff entry 3

Noun (3)

of obscure origin

First Known Use

Noun (1)

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Verb (1)

1844, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

1933, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (3)

1812, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gaff was circa 1656

Dictionary Entries Near gaff

Cite this Entry

“Gaff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gaff. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

gaff

noun
ˈgaf
1
: a spear or hook for lifting heavy fish
2
: a pole that extends from the back of a mast to support the top of a sail
3
: something hard to take
couldn't stand the gaff
4
: gaffe
gaff verb

More from Merriam-Webster on gaff

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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