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Origin of gaffe

1905–10; < French: blunder, probably special use of gaffe gaff1
Can be confusedgaff gaffe Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gaffe

Contemporary Examples of gaffe

Historical Examples of gaffe

  • She has been so charming to me that if I make a gaffe she must forgive me.

    Sylvia &amp; Michael

    Compton Mackenzie

  • Think what his position would have been if any member of his Embassy had made a "gaffe."

    Letters of a Diplomat's Wife

    Mary King Waddington

British Dictionary definitions for gaffe


  1. a social blunder, esp a tactless remark

Word Origin for gaffe

C19: from French
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

Word Origin and History for gaffe

"blunder," 1909, perhaps from French gaffe "clumsy remark," originally "boat hook," from Middle French gaffe (15c.), from Old Provençal gaf, probably from a Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *gafa. Sense connection is obscure; the gaff was used to land big fish. Or it may derive from British slang gaff "to cheat, trick" (1893); or gaff "criticism" (1896), from Scottish dialect sense of "loud, rude talk" (see gaff (n.2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper