gaf·​fer | \ ˈga-fər How to pronounce gaffer (audio) \

Definition of gaffer

1 : an old man — compare gammer
2 British
3 : a head glassblower
4 : a lighting electrician on a motion-picture or television set

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Did You Know?

Though movie and cinema buffs associate gaffer with Hollywood, the word actually pre-dates motion pictures by about 300 years. The first recorded use of gaffer dates from the 16th century, when it was used as a title of respect for an older gentleman. Later it was used as a generic noun for any elderly man, and then it picked up the sense "foreman" (still used in British English), perhaps because the foreman was the most experienced and, most likely, the oldest person in a work crew. Today gaffer is usually applied to the head lighting electrician on a movie set. The gaffer's assistant is called the best boy.

Examples of gaffer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These positions include but are not limited to first AD (assistant director), gaffer, script supervisor, etc. Paul Grein, Billboard, "Motion Picture Academy Sets Representation & Inclusion Standards For Best Picture Eligibility Starting in 2024," 9 Sep. 2020 Houston Street, lined with shops selling sunglasses one week or gaffer’s tape the next, was another source. New York Times, "The Tide Is High (Really), but Debbie Harry Is Staying Put," 28 Sep. 2019 Studios have halted productions around the world in response to the coronavirus, putting actors, writers, truck drivers, sound engineers and gaffers out of work. Lucas Shaw,, "Netflix Creates $100 Million Fund to Aid Hollywood Labor Force," 5 May 2020 The new gaffer has opted for a more youthful back line following the departure of Marmite figure David Luiz on deadline day, but the results have *not* been great., "Chelsea v Brighton: 7 Key Facts & Stats to Impress Your Mates Ahead of Premier League Encounter," 28 Sep. 2019 The company has a growing inventory — a full line of regular bras and underwear, along with nipple pasties and a mystifyingly flexible hoisting breast tape inspired by gaffer’s tape — but its core product is its shapewear fabric. Jessica Testa, New York Times, "Kim Kardashian Has Learned Restraint," 6 Feb. 2020 And the England gaffer gives a lovely little speech, all about respect, pride and kindness., "90min's Premier League Hall of Fame: Class of 2010," 22 Oct. 2019 The former Ostersunds gaffer guided Brighton to impressive victories over Spurs and Everton last month, which saw Albion rise to 14th in the Premier League table., "5-Man Premier League Manager of the Month Shortlist for October Award Revealed," 1 Nov. 2019 Cameras, monitors, lights and a rainbow’s worth of gaffer tape had been trucked in. Julie Seabaugh, New York Times, "Los Angeles Has a New Comedy Clubhouse: Dynasty Typewriter," 25 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gaffer.' 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 gaffer

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gaffer

phonetic reduction of godfather entry 1 (with initial vowel perhaps from grandfather entry 1)

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The first known use of gaffer was in 1589

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gaffer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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English Language Learners Definition of gaffer

: a person who is in charge of the lights that are used when making a movie, television show, etc.

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