• 2-minute read
  • 11th September 2020

Word Choice: Gaffe vs. Gaff

The words ‘gaffe’ and ‘gaff’ sound the same and only differ by one letter in spelling. Both words are quite rare, too, which means it’s easy to mix them up! But these terms have different meanings, so check out our guide below and make sure you use them correctly in your writing.

Gaffe (An Error)

‘Gaffe’ is a noun that refers to a blunder or social error. It’s used in much the same way as faux pas, which literally means ‘misstep’. For example:

It was a major gaffe that needed serious damage control.

In addition, to remember what this word means and how to spell it, it can help to imagine that the ‘e’ at the end of ‘gaffe’ stands for ‘error’.

Gaff (A House or Tool)

‘Gaff’ is a noun with a few different uses, though none are very common. In the UK, you’re most likely to hear this word as a slang term meaning ‘home’:

You should stop by my gaff later.

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But ‘gaff’ can also refer to some specialist tools, including:

  • A pole with a hook on it used for fishing.
  • A type of rigging on a boat.
  • The spur or spike on a climbing iron.

Finally, ‘gaff’ can also be a verb used to describe fishing with a gaff.

Summary: Gaffe or Gaff?

To make sure you use the right word, remember:

  • A gaffe is always an error or blunder.
  • In the UK, gaff is typically a slang word meaning ‘home’, but it can also refer to tools for fishing, sailing, or climbing in all English dialects.

As long as you remember ‘gaffe’ ends with an ‘e’ for ‘error’, you should be able to tell these words apart. And if you’d like any extra help making sure your writing is error free, give our proofreading services a try for free today.

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