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[duhf-er] /ˈdʌf ər/
  1. a plodding, clumsy, incompetent person.
  2. a person inept or inexperienced at a specific sport, as golf.
Northern and North Midland U.S. an old man, especially a dull or indecisive one.
  1. anything inferior, counterfeit, or useless.
  2. a peddler, especially one who sells cheap, flashy goods.
Origin of duffer
Scots dialect
1835-45; perhaps Scots dialect duffar, dowfart “dull, stupid person,” derivative of dowf; def 3 perhaps re-formation with duff3 + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for duffer
Historical Examples
  • Don't blame my mother or Bob, please, or Jerry either, because I've turned out to be such a duffer.

    Walter and the Wireless Sara Ware Bassett
  • I'm such a duffer at explaining, or I'd have told you last night.

  • "There he is again," said Clara, who had in the mean time gone over to Mrs. duffer.

    Marion Fay Anthony Trollope
  • "He was a Spaniard, or an Italian, you know," the duffer explained.

    The Hill Horace Annesley Vachell
  • And scurrying along the passage he ran headlong into the duffer, to whom he explained his errand.

    The Hill Horace Annesley Vachell
  • The duffer kicks it most accurately, kicks it well out to the top side.

    The Hill Horace Annesley Vachell
  • "Sorry I turfed that little ass so hard," said the duffer to John.

    The Hill Horace Annesley Vachell
  • The duffer had letters to write, and stigmatized walking as a beastly grind.

    The Hill Horace Annesley Vachell
  • Accordingly, much of our hero's time was spent in the company of the duffer and Fluff.

    The Hill Horace Annesley Vachell
  • He is the father of three sons, but the duffer is the first to get into the Eleven.

    The Hill Horace Annesley Vachell
British Dictionary definitions for duffer


(informal) a dull or incompetent person
(slang) something worthless
(dialect) a peddler or hawker
(Austral, slang)
  1. a mine that proves unproductive
  2. a person who steals cattle
Word Origin
C19: of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for duffer

"inept person; old man," especially "bad golfer," 1842, perhaps from Scottish duffar "dull or stupid person," from dowf "stupid," literally "deaf," from Old Norse daufr, with pejorative suffix -art. Or perhaps from 18c. thieves' slang duff (v.) "to dress or manipulate an old thing and make it look new."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for duffer



  1. An elderly man; geezer, jasper •Used rather affectionately: He's a sweet old duffer, isn't he?
  2. A mediocre or downright poor performer, esp at golf; hacker

[1840s+; perhaps fr Scots duffar, ''dolt'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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