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 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 If Potter is able to get results along with Brighton’s easy-on-the-eye football, the Seagulls’ supporters will be in for an exciting season under their new gaffer., "Watford 0-3 Brighton: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Seagulls Steal Points From Sting-Free Hornets," 10 Aug. 2019 Prager bounced her beatific year-old son, Francis, on one hip while gaffers and grips arranged the lighting for the next shot. Megan K. Stack, The New Yorker, "Alex Prager is a photographer and filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles.," 1 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile, Couppey has also alleged that Brazilian superstar Neymar has it on good authority that ex-Barca gaffer Luis Enrique could make a late charge to rival Tuchel for the PSG vacancy., "Spanish Report Claims Barça Legend Xavi Has Been Earmarked As Future PSG Head Coach," 19 Apr. 2018 My winter coats come from thrift stores and are all missing buttons or linings, and one of my favorite pairs of boots is currently supported by gaffer tape. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "I used all the best stuff for a week and it nearly broke me," 12 Dec. 2018 Hughes cannot select club captain Davis due to an achilles injury that is set to rule him out of the final few games of this term, but the Southampton gaffer has an otherwise fully-fit squad to choose from., "Everton vs Southampton Preview: Past Meeting, Recent Form, Team News, Prediction & More," 4 May 2018 Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has described the relationship between himself and Manchester United gaffer Jose Mourinho as a 'normal' one., "Antonio Conte Describes His Relationship With Jose Mourinho Ahead of FA Cup Final," 19 May 2018 That has led to plenty of speculation about who may replace Wenger in the Emirates dugout if he is let go or opts to stand down, with Juventus boss Max Allegri and former Borussia Dortmund gaffer Thomas Tuchel heavily linked., "Arsenal Legend Emerges As Serious Contender to Replace Arsene Wenger at Emirates," 19 Apr. 2018

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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Time Traveler for gaffer

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The first known use of gaffer was in 1589

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Last Updated

25 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Gaffer.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 8 December 2019.

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More Definitions for gaffer


How to pronounce gaffer (audio)

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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to constrict the range or activity of

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