sclaffed; sclaffing; sclaffs

intransitive verb

: to scrape the ground instead of hitting the ball cleanly on a golf stroke
sclaff noun
sclaffer noun

Did you know?

There's no dearth of names for bad shots on the golf course. The duffer can dub, slice, hook, top, pull, push, sky, shank, or sclaff a shot. Sclaff is a word at home-albeit not warmly welcomed-on the Scottish links. In Scots, sclaff originally referred to a slap with the palm of the hand and was likely of onomatopoeic origin. The similarity of the painful resonance of a sclaff to the disheartening thud of a golf club striking the ground behind a ball did not go unnoticed by grimacing golfers on the fairway. By the 19th century's end, sclaff was being used as both a noun and verb for such a stroke.

Word History


Scots, from sclaff, noun, literally, blow with the palm; probably of imitative origin

First Known Use

1893, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sclaff was in 1893


Dictionary Entries Near sclaff

Cite this Entry

“Sclaff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

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