1 : an old man — compare gammer
b British : employer
3 : a head glassblower
4 : a lighting electrician on a motion-picture or television set
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.
Before the first day of shooting, the gaffer spent several days setting up all the lights.
"There were no gaffers or best boys or Foley artists who called Wilmington home. Many folks didn't even know what all those words meant." — Amy Hotz, The Star-News (Wilmington, North Carolina), 11 May 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
What 4-letter word beginning with "g" refers to a worker who handles scenery, lights, or equipment on a stage or a motion-picture or television set?VIEW THE ANSWER
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