One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A contemptible or cowardly person.as modifier ‘a caitiff knight’
contemptible, loathsome, hateful, detestable, reprehensible, abhorrent, abominable, awful, heinous, beyond the paleView synonyms
- ‘At once I understood and was certain, that this was the sect of the caitiffs displeasing unto God, and unto his enemies.’
- ‘Peter is a caitiff who has risen to great heights politically: however, he is still a caitiff.’
- ‘According to the clear meaning of the word, the holy war for the religion against the infidels and caitiffs is somewhat like a struggle against one's own desires.’
- ‘He has for several years been playing snarling caitiffs in the wave of crime plays.’
- ‘Your only comfort lay in the forced reflection, that, real as he looked, the poor caitiff was but imaginary, a bit of painted canvass, whom no delirium tremens, nor so much as a retributive headache, awaited, on the morrow.’
Middle English (denoting a captive or prisoner): from Old French caitif ‘captive’, based on Latin captivus ‘(person) taken captive’ (see captive).
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