\ ˈgaf How to pronounce gaff (audio) \

Definition of gaff

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : a spear or spearhead for taking fish or turtles
b : a handled hook for holding or lifting heavy fish
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
gaffed; gaffing; gaffs

Definition of gaff (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb

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

Definition of gaff (Entry 3 of 5)

: a cheap theater or music hall

Definition of gaff (Entry 4 of 5)

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

Definition of gaff (Entry 5 of 5)

transitive verb

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

First Known Use of gaff

Noun (1)

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (1)

1844, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1812, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

1933, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gaff

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

Noun (3)

of obscure origin

Verb (2)

probably derivative of gaff entry 4

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Time Traveler for gaff

Time Traveler

The first known use of gaff was circa 1656

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Cite this Entry

“Gaff.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gaffed. Accessed 21 November 2019.

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More from Merriam-Webster on gaff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gaff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gaff

Spanish Central: Translation of gaff

Nglish: Translation of gaff for Spanish Speakers

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