\ ˈgaf How to pronounce gaffe (audio) \

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 Properly fielding an onside kick has preexisting significance within the Hoosiers football world, considering the effect such a gaffe had on the result of last year’s Gator Bowl with Tennessee. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "IU football preparing for ‘watermelon kick’ and a range of other special teams oddities," 16 Oct. 2020 However, critics have questioned whether aides are trying to protect him from a gaffe that could cost him the election. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Joe Biden has faced half as many questions from press as President Trump in lead up to election, tally finds," 14 Oct. 2020 Biden appeared to tire down the stretch, which was likely a goal of Trump’s constant badgering, looking for a major gaffe that did not occur. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "Free Press panel: Was there a winner between Biden and Trump in 'bar fight' of a debate?," 30 Sep. 2020 Since being contacted by USA TODAY, Political Insider added an editor's note to its story, noting everyone isn't seeing Biden's statement as a gaffe. Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Joe Biden did not botch the Pledge of Allegiance in speech," 24 Sep. 2020 It cannot be badgered or bullied into making a gaffe. Kyle Whitmire, al, "The virus speaks loudest of all," 2 Oct. 2020 But the frenetic pace and sloppy arguments meant the former vice president at no point committed a debate-night gaffe likely to jeopardize his steady lead in the race. Justin Sink,, "Trump’s Bare-Knuckle Night With Biden Risks Repelling Key Voters," 30 Sep. 2020 His encouragement of white supremacist groups was not a gaffe. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "Trump and the Limits of Content Moderation," 30 Sep. 2020 The Astros got a reprieve with a huge Twins fielding gaffe in the ninth. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Ninth-inning rally sends Astros to Game 1 win over Twins," 29 Sep. 2020

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

Time Traveler for gaffe

Time Traveler

The first known use of gaffe was in 1909

See more words from the same year

Statistics for gaffe

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gaffe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gaffe


How to pronounce gaffe (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gaffe

: a mistake made in a social situation

More from Merriam-Webster on gaffe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gaffe

Nglish: Translation of gaffe for Spanish Speakers

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!