naff

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adjective \ˈnaf\

Definition of naff

British, informal

  1. :  lacking in style or good taste :  vulgar and unfashionable I was going to get a pair of leather jeans as well, but it was too expensive and anyway, leather pants look naff, as I discovered later. — Melvin Burgess, Smack, 1996 … the terrifying door girl Scarlett sat guard and held up a hand mirror to anyone she considered too naff to enter, with the withering line “Would you let yourself in?” — Hamish Bowles, Vogue, November 2012

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Origin and Etymology of naff

perhaps borrowed from Polari (English argot used by theatrical and circus performers and in certain gay subcultures, derived in part from Italian); ulterior origin uncertain A summary of hypotheses on the origin of naff can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, on-line third edition (this entry updated June, 2003). The putative Polari phrase naff omi “a dreary man,” unattributed in the Oxford etymology, is apparently from a communication by the comic actor Kenneth Williams, in 1980, to Paul Beale, the editor of Eric Partridge’s A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, 8th edition, 1984 (see p. 775).


First Known Use: 1966


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