Middle EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit


Inherited from Old English ċeaf, *cæf, from Proto-Germanic *kafą.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtʃaf/, /ˈtʃɛf/, /ˈkaf/


chaf (plural chaffes)

  1. Chaff; the parts of harvested grain not usable as food, especially straw or husks.
  2. (figuratively) Something of little to no value or importance.
  3. (figuratively) An evil or immoral act or person; a sin or a practitioner of one.
    • a. 1382, John Wycliffe, “Matheu 3:12”, in Wycliffe's Bible:
      Whos wynewing cloth is in his hoond, and he ſhal fulli clenſe his corn flore, and ſhal gadere his whete in to his berne; but the chaffe he ſhal brenne with fier that mai not be quenchid.
      His winnowing fan is in his hand, and he'll completely clean his threshing-floor and gather up his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he'll burn with unquenchable fire.
  4. (rare) Waste from food other than grains; rubbish or refuse.


  • English: chaff
  • Scots: caff