Word of the day – gaffen

gaffen, verb = to gape, gawp, stare

Example of usage:
gaff nicht, sondern hilf mir lieber! = don’t just stand there gawping, come and help!

Related words:
Gaffer(in) = gaper, gawper, starer
Gafferei = gaping, gawping, staring
glotzen = to gawp at something

Today’s word caught my eye while looking through my German dictionary. In British English slang, the gaffer is the boss or foreman, and your gaff is your home, though this usage is a bit old fashioned.

In Scottish Gaelic, the lovely word spleuchd means to gape, gaze, goggle, squint, stare, while the Welsh ceg agored (lit. “open mouthed”) is a stare.

This entry was posted in German, Language, Words and phrases.

4 Responses to Word of the day – gaffen

  1. TJ says:

    Isn’t it a bit weird?
    in Arabic, the one who watches or guards something is called “غفير” (Ghafeer), with Gh is like french R. Sounds like Gaffer so much but with softer F and longer “e” (or more like long “i” I would say)!

    That reminds me of one of the words that they say it comes into English from Arabic, like the word “Cable” they say originally it’s “حبل” (Hhabl), with HH is a voiceless pharyngeal fricative. (Don’t know why they call it voiceless anyway for me it is like a hard fricative sound!)

  2. Simon says:

    TJ – that is a bit wierd and also interesting.

    The English word gaffer is probably an abbreviation of godfather or grandfather. The female equivalent is gammer.

  3. TJ says:

    The word “Gammer” reminds me of some misunderstanding that some people tend to fall in. Lot of people just link languages altogether simply by the similarity in pronunciation.

    One day you might see someone that links Gammer to …Grammar for example! I’ve seen lot of people that tend to link foreign words, specially in english, to some words in Arabic just because the pronunciation is somehow similar, just like “gaffer” for example. They would insist that english took that word for Arabic originally and there is no chance for coincedence. Moreover there are some people that think that hebrew is derived from arabic, or arabic is derived from hebrew and just cannot understand the fact that this is one language and there is another and both of them have a common family or group! I believe such “linking” can lead to some serious troubles when it is used by the wrong people who have wrong understanding, or by people who know it’s wrong and use it for wrong (special) purposes!

  4. Arianne Slaager says:

    In dutch it’s all derived from the verb “gapen”, what actually means to yawn. But staring to someone is called “aangapen”. The dutch “gaper” is also used for old apothecaries statues, preferably with a pill on the tongue, and is commonly used to denote someone who stares awkwardly. Also onlookers standing by emergency situations, like fires, are called “gapers”.

    Seems like german and dutch have quite a lot of common ethymology in any case. But then, so does dutch have with english and french.

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