\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 There were a few gaffes, but nothing that would rise to the level of candidacy-killing flubs by statewide wannabes in the past. Dara Kam,, "In governor's debate, Democrats avoid fatal gaffes," 19 Apr. 2018 His gaffe about the Benghazi subcommittee being set up to hurt Hillary Clinton politically, which helped foment doubts, is still there. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "How red and pink Starburst might make Kevin McCarthy the next House speaker," 12 Apr. 2018 Those who followed Facebook’s privacy gaffes over the years may feel a sense of familiarity. Barbara Ortutay,, "At least 87 million users affected by Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook says," 4 Apr. 2018 Those who followed Facebook’s privacy gaffes over the years may feel a sense of familiarity. Barbara Ortutay,, "Facebook privacy scandal grows: Up to 87 million affected," 4 Apr. 2018 His campaign was filled with gaffes, from critiques of Sen. John McCain to fighting with a Gold Star family. Jessica Estepa, USA TODAY, "Before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, here are 5 of the biggest U.S. political upsets," 27 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gaffe

Dictionary Entries near gaffe








Statistics for gaffe

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gaffe

The first known use of gaffe was in 1909

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gaffe



English Language Learners Definition of gaffe

: a mistake made in a social situation

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on gaffe

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


by word of mouth

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!