Word of the DayWednesday, December 03, 2008
\KAY-tif\ , noun, adjective;
a mean, cowardly person
But there was no need: the towering threat and the flaming eye and the swift rush buffeted the caitiff away: he recoiled three steps, and nearly fell down.
-- Charles Reade, The Atlantic, 6/1/1943
Captain Thomas J. C. Martyn . . . was asked to give his opinion on recent despatches from Berlin which stated that Count Manfred von Richthofen, celebrated German flyer, was not shot in the air but killed by caitiff riflemen after he had made a safe landing behind the British lines.
-- Friendly Enemies, Time, 12/14/1925
c.1300, from Old North French caitive "captive, miserable," from Latin captivum; originally the word meant a "captive, prisoner"
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