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[gaf] /gæf/
a social blunder; faux pas.
1905-10; < French: blunder, probably special use of gaffe gaff1
Can be confused
gaff, gaffe. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gaffes
  • The widely reported gaffes had appeared in other oil companies' spill-response plans as well.
  • gaffes, bungles, and inanities still get covered up.
  • But he flouts etiquette so reliably that you can't call these things gaffes.
  • Laughter is also there for all the hitches, glitches, and gaffes that are part of our imperfect existence.
  • Besides eating out less often, he says, diners are less patient with restaurant gaffes such as cold food or slow service.
  • The gaffes last year in the playoffs amped up the discussion to expand the use of instant replay.
  • When the microphones were on, gaffes gushed from his lips.
  • Given his predilection for gaffes, his supporters are only half joking when they say he should start that silence now.
  • Despite some gaffes last year, the administration is proving popular and effective in the region.
  • Besides looking presidential, a candidate must avoid gaffes.
British Dictionary definitions for gaffes


a social blunder, esp a tactless remark
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for gaffes



"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
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