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gaff1

[gaf] /gæf/
noun
1.
an iron hook with a handle for landing large fish.
2.
the spur on a climbing iron, especially as used by telephone linemen.
3.
Nautical. a spar rising aft from a mast to support the head of a quadrilateral fore-and-aft sail (gaff sail)
4.
a metal spur for a gamecock.
verb (used with object)
5.
to hook or land (a fish) with a gaff.
Origin of gaff1
1275-1325
1275-1325; Middle English < Middle French gaffe, gaff < Provençal gaf hook, gaff, noun derivative of gafar to seize (compare Medieval Latin gaffare), probably < Germanic (Visigothic) *gaff-, perhaps derivative from base of Gothic giban give
Can be confused
gaff, gaffe.

gaff2

[gaf] /gæf/
noun
1.
harsh treatment or criticism:
All the gaff he took never made him bitter.
Idioms
2.
stand / take the gaff, Slang. to weather hardship or strain; endure patiently.
Origin
1895-1900, Americanism; compare earlier British use: nonsense, humbug, Scots dial.: loud laugh, guffaw; of uncertain origin; cf. guff

gaff3

[gaf] /gæf/
verb (used with object)
1.
Slang. to cheat; fleece.
verb (used without object)
2.
British Slang. to gamble, especially to indulge in petty gambling, as to toss coins.
Origin
1745-55; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for gaff
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then blocks began to rattle, and when the gaff was up the sail flapped in the wind.

    Kit Musgrave's Luck Harold Bindloss
  • The keen eyes, were dancing now—the big fish had fairly got the gaff.

    The Dop Doctor Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • Slowly and carefully the fisher drew the fish towards the shelving bank, where Junkie stood ready with the gaff.

    The Eagle Cliff R.M. Ballantyne
  • Next day it's Bach, the second seaman, who begins to feel the gaff.

  • When they had hoisted the unconscious Tom to the gaff, Swarth ordered: "Belay, coil up the fall, and go forrard."

  • The screw of the net-hoop and of the gaff will suit the same handle.

    Scotch Loch-Fishing AKA Black Palmer, William Senior
  • So saying, gaff lifted the latch of the door and stood before his wife and child.

    Shifting Winds R.M. Ballantyne
  • The projections at the throat-end of a gaff which embrace the mast are termed jaws.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • Had the gaff been a foot longer he would have cleared the chasm.

    Harbor Tales Down North Norman Duncan
British Dictionary definitions for gaff

gaff1

/ɡæf/
noun
1.
(angling) a stiff pole with a stout prong or hook attached for landing large fish
2.
(nautical) a boom hoisted aft of a mast to support a gaffsail
3.
a metal spur fixed to the leg of a gamecock
verb (transitive)
4.
(angling) to hook or land (a fish) with a gaff
5.
(slang) to cheat; hoax
Word Origin
C13: from French gaffe, from Provençal gaf boathook

gaff2

/ɡæf/
noun
1.
(slang) foolish talk; nonsense
2.
(Brit, slang) blow the gaff, to divulge a secret
3.
(slang, mainly US & Canadian) stand the gaff, to endure ridicule, difficulties, etc
Word Origin
C19: of unknown origin

gaff3

/ɡæf/
noun (Brit, slang, archaic)
1.
a person's home, esp a flat
2.
Also called penny-gaff. a cheap or low-class place of entertainment, esp a cheap theatre or music hall in Victorian England
Word Origin
C18: of unknown 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 gaff
n.

"iron hook," c.1300, gaffe, from Old French gaffe "boat hook" (see gaffe). Specifically of the hook on a fishing spear from 1650s.

"loud, rude talk," 1825, from Scottish dialect, perhaps a survival of Old English gafspræc "blasphemous or ribald speech," or from gaff (n.1), and cf. gaffe.

"cheap music hall or theater; place of amusement for the lowest classes," 1850s, British slang, earlier "a fair" (1753), of unknown origin.

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

gaff

noun

A concealed device or operation that makes it impossible for the customer to win; gimmick: People started looking for a gaff (1893+ Carnival & hawkers)

verb

  1. To cheat; swindle; trick, esp by shortchanging (1893+ Carnival & hawkers)
  2. To use a concealed device, esp for an illusion: The volcano was ''gaffed'' with steampipes (1893+ Carnival & hawkers)
  3. To reprimand; rebuke severely (1950s+ Navy)

Related Terms

blow the gaff, stand the gaff

[fr gaff, ''a hook'']

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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Idioms and Phrases with gaff

gaff

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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11
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