: a social or diplomatic blunder
committed an embarrassing gaffe when he mispronounced her name
: 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

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 Biden is the oldest sitting president, and due to his common verbal gaffes and occasional stumbles and falls, voters have expressed worries over his ability to continue being president. Julia Johnson, Washington Examiner, 20 Nov. 2023 During his latest rally, while criticizing rival Joe Biden for his gaffes as a candidate, Donald Trump had some stumbles of his own. Lalee Ibssa, ABC News, 31 Oct. 2023 This Story New House Speaker Kicks Things Off With Crass Remark About His Wife Representative Mike Johnson made a gross gaffe about his wife in his acceptance speech. Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling, The New Republic, 26 Oct. 2023 Target a smart, aggressive, rookie reporter in his first weeks on the beat and immediately punish him for media policy violations that amount to little more than protocol gaffes. Suspend the reporter. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Exceptions and gaffes have only complicated matters. Pedro Moura, Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2023 The gaffe says quite a bit about the fascists in Donald Trump’s rolodex. Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling, The New Republic, 23 Oct. 2023 The gaffe underscored a worrying detail about the 2024 GOP presidential candidate: clearly, Trump has too many adoring fascists in his rolodex to keep them straight. Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling, The New Republic, 24 Oct. 2023 Over the credits, there are clips of gaffes from her concert run — getting a microphone stuck on a gown, getting drenched during her set in Massachusetts — that further strip away the sheen. Elisabeth Garber-Paul, Rolling Stone, 23 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of gaffe was in 1909

Dictionary Entries Near gaffe

Cite this Entry

“Gaffe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a noticeable mistake especially of manners

More from Merriam-Webster on gaffe

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