Definition of gaffer in English:



  • 1The chief electrician in a motion-picture or television production unit.

    • ‘What is the bond between gaffers and costumers?’
    • ‘She always had time for the gaffers, the prop guys, the stage hands, the script girls, even the security guards.’
    • ‘It might have been an actor, it might have been the director, or maybe even one of the gaffers.’
    • ‘Then he assembled a meeting between himself, Norman, Savannah, the first A.D., the cinematographer and the head gaffer and let them know what was going on.’
    • ‘The gaffer huffed and puffed behind his camera man.’
    • ‘He is joking with the gaffer, and during the hour of the shoot, goes out of his way to speak to each of the crew, signs autographs, makes small talk.’
    • ‘In order to eat, they had to hang out with gaffers and best boys!’
    • ‘But if you're talking to make-up artists or gaffers or other rank-and-file workers in the industry, the values are much more traditional.’
    • ‘It was very tough, we were the crew, the grips, the gaffers, the directors, Rob and I were two of the actors, we did the costumes, the make-up FX, everything.’
    • ‘Each one of us, everybody here in this room, sound, gaffers, assistants, whoever it is, we all have to do something to reverse the effects of the C02.’
    • ‘The number of people who work on these movies is huge, and things happen - gaffers grab the wrong wire, carpenters fall off scaffolds, smokepots go off in a FX tech's face.’
    • ‘They are great as a unit so although the gaffer won't be there he will be, if you know what I mean.’
    • ‘She gatecrashes a chat with Dennis when the lads are first planning their trip and she rather takes a shine to the gaffer.’
    • ‘The 60-year-old star caught a gaffer fooling around with an electronic toy designed to mimic the sound of flatulence and confiscated it.’
    • ‘And not just extras, gaffers and best boys either; she's apparently done this to several of her costars.’
    • ‘It took five minutes for the names of all the actors, producers, editors, gaffers, grips, best boys, dialect coaches, wig makers and steelworkers to crawl by.’
  • 2informal An old man.

    • ‘He noticed that one of the old gaffers had a bluish lump under his right ear (he would forget his face but he would never forget his ear) and the girl had a fine golden chain around her bare neck.’
    • ‘Old gaffers recited love-poetry, and made the evening shadows creep with more tales about a Greek-tongued demon of the hills.’
    • ‘An old gaffer sold me a whole crate of them for the price of a bottle.’
    • ‘At first Pak Rabun reminded me of an old English gaffer.’
    old man, elderly man, senior citizen, pensioner, oap, grandfather
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  • 3British informal A person in charge of others; a boss.

    • ‘When the gaffer arrived, he knew many of the players by name only.’
    • ‘The gaffer and the players kept asking if they could see it, so why not?’
    • ‘Again and again the contributors write of you as a sort of capo, the gaffer, the boss.’
    • ‘We have added seven players, the gaffer has freshened things up and kept competition for places at a premium.’
    • ‘Everyone knows we haven't got the biggest squad in the world and it seems that every time the gaffer gets another player back in the mix, he loses another through either injury or suspension - or both!’
    • ‘But the gaffer thought I'd looked all right in training and gave me the chance and I didn't want to let anyone down.’
    • ‘The gaffer is such a good manager that he is bound to attract interest from bigger clubs.’
    • ‘I know all the lads are right behind the gaffer in his dislike of the United boss and they will be fired up - make no mistake.’
    • ‘Both men, though, look set to make bigger names for themselves as gaffers than they did as players.’
    • ‘It's the players who do the business, not the gaffer and when we cross that white line, it's up to us.’
    • ‘The gaffer only buys quality players and he has brought in another one.’
    • ‘Jacobs, now in his tenth season at the club, has seen gaffers come and go.’
    • ‘Obviously, the gaffer is far superior in international football compared to me.’
    • ‘It's also helped that the gaffer has told me to play forward more.’
    • ‘Predicting a better period under Smith, he has been impressed by the new gaffer.’
    • ‘The overall squad isn't the biggest, so the gaffer needs as many players as possible and if everyone is fit, the squad is in better shape all round.’
    • ‘The gaffer made me captain at the start of the season and I want to be back out there helping the lads get back up the league.’
    • ‘Ferguson, one of the last of the old-style authoritarian gaffers, has had those rules challenged in a world that makes some footballers behave like Hollywood megastars.’
    • ‘The gaffer has spoken to the chairman and told me to just get on with organising everything.’
    • ‘The gaffer's man-management skills really shone through when we lost seven games on the trot earlier in the season.’
    boss, manager, manageress, foreman, forewoman, overseer, controller, supervisor, superintendent
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Late 16th century: probably a contraction of godfather; compare with gammer.