\ˈgaf \

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

Throughout his career, Johnson has managed to surmount the sort of gaffes that have brought other politicians down. Gregory Katz, The Seattle Times, "Out as UK foreign secretary: One more twist in Boris saga," 9 July 2018 And despite Trump grousing about Giuliani’s gaffes, the president has also told people that Giuliani is putting out information that the president wants to be part of the public conversation, particularly about the special counsel inquiry., "Giuliani resigns from law firm amid tensions over comments about Trump," 10 May 2018 In recent days, there have been a series of embarrassing gaffes and unforced errors from President Donald Trump and his already chaotic administration that have inspired a fresh round of head-scratching inside the Beltway and beyond. NBC News, "Trump White House a well-oiled mistakes machine in recent days," 18 Apr. 2018 Johnson, 54, has earned a reputation for gaffes — and a Teflon-like ability to survive them — during a long political career. Fox News, "Regret, relief at departure of Boris Johnson as top UK envoy," 10 July 2018 The base-running gaffe may have been the most obvious, but the Royals’ loss in the series opener was dotted with other key moments. Blair Kerkhoff, kansascity, "Three doubles by Jon Jay not enough for Royals against Twins," 28 May 2018 Critics say his gaffes, which have included racist, homophobic and sexist stereotypes, are part of a dog-whistle political strategy. Tara John, Time, "Italy's Silvio Berlusconi Is Back in the Spotlight and So Are His Sexist Comments. Here Are Some of His Worst.," 1 Mar. 2018 This was a huge gaffe, in the final seconds of the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals with the game on the line. Tim Reynolds, Houston Chronicle, "Cavaliers' J.R. Smith changes tune on Game 1 blunder," 3 June 2018 The trouble is there is no escaping your horticultural gaffes. New York Times, "How Hard Can It Be to Grow a Garden?," 25 May 2018

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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Statistics for gaffe

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for gaffe

The first known use of gaffe was in 1909

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English Language Learners Definition of gaffe

: a mistake made in a social situation

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