gaff sail

noun Nautical.

See under gaff1(def 3).
Also called gaff-head·ed sail [gaf-hed-id] /ˈgæfˌhɛd ɪd/.

Definition for gaff sail (2 of 2)


[ gaf ]
/ gæf /


an iron hook with a handle for landing large fish.
the spur on a climbing iron, especially as used by telephone linemen.
Nautical. a spar rising aft from a mast to support the head of a quadrilateral fore-and-aft sail (gaff sail).
a metal spur for a gamecock.

verb (used with object)

to hook or land (a fish) with a gaff.

Origin of gaff

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gaff sail

  • It is in form like a gaff-sail, but depends entirely on the rope of the luff for its stability.

    The Sailor's Word-Book|William Henry Smyth
  • The canvas they had found was cut into a gaff-sail, while the other spar served as the gaff.

    True Blue|W.H.G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for gaff sail (1 of 3)


/ (ɡæf) /


angling a stiff pole with a stout prong or hook attached for landing large fish
nautical a boom hoisted aft of a mast to support a gaffsail
a metal spur fixed to the leg of a gamecock

verb (tr)

angling to hook or land (a fish) with a gaff
slang to cheat; hoax

Word Origin for gaff

C13: from French gaffe, from Provençal gaf boathook

British Dictionary definitions for gaff sail (2 of 3)


/ (ɡæf) /


slang foolish talk; nonsense
blow the gaff British slang to divulge a secret
stand the gaff slang, mainly US and Canadian to endure ridicule, difficulties, etc

Word Origin for gaff

C19: of unknown origin

British Dictionary definitions for gaff sail (3 of 3)


/ (ɡæf) /

noun British slang, archaic

a person's home, esp a flat
Also called: penny-gaff a cheap or low-class place of entertainment, esp a cheap theatre or music hall in Victorian England

Word Origin for gaff

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

Idioms and Phrases with gaff sail


see stand the gaff.

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