[ duhf-er ]
See synonyms for duffer on Thesaurus.com
  1. Informal.

    • a plodding, clumsy, incompetent person.

    • a person inept or inexperienced at a specific sport, as golf.

  2. Northern and North Midland U.S. an old man, especially a dull or indecisive one.

  1. Slang.

    • anything inferior, counterfeit, or useless.

    • a peddler, especially one who sells cheap, flashy goods.

Origin of duffer

1835–45; perhaps Scots dialect duffar, dowfart “dull, stupid person,” derivative of dowf; def. 3 perhaps re-formation with duff3 + -er1

Words Nearby duffer

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use duffer in a sentence

  • Matt and Ross duffer, the twin creators and showrunners of the Netflix series, said it was Wolfhard’s “authenticity” that won him the role.

  • He's a kindly old duffer; always doing things for folks and going out of his way to help a neighbor and things like that.

  • duffer is most inelegant (this from Julie in an assumption of stern reproach); I do not see wherever you picked up such a word.

    Those Dale Girls | Frank Weston Carruth
  • There is no false modesty in the confidence with which I esteem myself a duffer, at fishing.

    Angling Sketches | Andrew Lang
  • Anyway, you're behaving like a brick to them both, and Ronnie is a deuced old duffer for giving you up.

    Katharine Frensham | Beatrice Harraden
  • Harry: I used to think Santa a pretty jolly old duffer, who made lots of sport for the infants, but I'm ready for a change myself.

    Christmas Entertainments | Alice Maude Kellogg

British Dictionary definitions for duffer


/ (ˈdʌfə) /

  1. informal a dull or incompetent person

  2. slang something worthless

  1. dialect a peddler or hawker

  2. Australian slang

    • a mine that proves unproductive

    • a person who steals cattle

Origin of duffer

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