\ ˈgaf How to pronounce gaffe (audio) \

Definition of gaffe

1 : a social or diplomatic blunder committed an embarrassing gaffe when he mispronounced her name
2 : a noticeable mistake Kwan did not fall today, as she had in Friday's short program, a gaffe that left her in fourth place.— Christopher Clarey

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Examples of gaffe in a Sentence

He realized that he had committed an awful gaffe when he mispronounced her name. committed a huge gaffe when she started drinking from the finger bowl
Recent Examples on the Web The conversation in May lasted nearly 20 minutes and ended with a gaffe that the former vice president had to apologize for hours later. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "Young Black voters say they aren't enthusiastic about a Joe Biden presidency," 9 July 2020 What if?'Did Rasheed Wallace's defensive gaffe cost the Pistons a ring? Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons' Dwane Casey on team goal: 'Something that'll be sustainable'," 11 June 2020 But Charlamagne suggested Biden has bigger issues than a verbal gaffe along the campaign trail. Dominick Mastrangelo, Washington Examiner, "Charlamagne tha God says Biden can remedy 'racist' Senate voting record by leaning 'into blackness now'," 4 June 2020 Even institutions that are supposedly apolitical, from the World Health Organization to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making gaffes, misjudgments and blunders. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, "Mitch Albom: In coronavirus crisis, our humanity saves us," 5 Apr. 2020 The president again ripped Biden over gaffes on the campaign trail, zeroing in on the former vice president recently misstating gun deaths. Will Steakin, ABC News, "Amid coronavirus threat, Trump holds South Carolina rally in latest effort to disrupt Democratic primary," 28 Feb. 2020 Critics allege that his quips are not gaffes, but deliberate dog-whistles to bigots — a populist tactic straight out of the Donald Trump playbook. Washington Post, "From punchline to political star: the rise of Boris Johnson," 13 Dec. 2019 Were Tooning Out the News a live-action series, neither the gaffes nor the triumph of luring Guilani onto the show in the first place would have been possible. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "Quarantine Is a Weirdly Good Time for Animation," 10 May 2020 San Diego piled on reliever David Phelps after Miller departed, with the fielding gaffes (one by Phelps himself) and a grand slam by Abraham Almonte deciding things. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Camp report: Logan Morrison saves the Brewers from falling victim to a perfect game," 3 Mar. 2020

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

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First Known Use of gaffe

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gaffe

borrowed from French, probably a sense development of gaffe gaff entry 1

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Time Traveler for gaffe

Time Traveler

The first known use of gaffe was in 1909

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Statistics for gaffe

Last Updated

16 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gaffe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for gaffe


How to pronounce gaffe (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gaffe

: a mistake made in a social situation

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More from Merriam-Webster on gaffe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gaffe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gaffe

Spanish Central: Translation of gaffe

Nglish: Translation of gaffe for Spanish Speakers

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