Gazette: Words

Gaffe, n.
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WHENEVER PRINCE Philip utters one of those remarks that would have the rest of us hauled before a consciousness-raising committee, it is described as a gaffe.

The word first appeared in Edwardian times, perhaps from the French gaffe, and there are Old English and Scottish instances - all shades of undecorous talk (in French "faire une gaffe" is clear enough, but "fais gaffe!" means watch out, which could cause more trouble on a state visit). It also echoes the early-19th-century blowing the gaff and talking guff; gaff is also a rowdy fair.

As for Indian electricians' views of Prince Philip, these are harder to find - the owner of a nearby tandoori remarks that an electrician friend trades under an English name "so that he gets the business".