From a dialect word meaning "blow in gusts".


  • IPA(key): /fæf/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æf


faff (plural faffs)

  1. (Britain, slang) An overcomplicated task, especially one perceived as a waste of time.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:nuisance
    Adjusting this television is a bit of a faff.
    • 2007 November 27, Hadley Freeman, “Miaow!”, in The Guardian[1]:
      God it must be a faff having to get nigh-on naked every time your bladder runneth over, and imagine how much worse it must be if you only have a 20-second break to run off stage to the loo.
    • 2011, Patrick Kingsley, “Life with the Queen Mum revealed”, in The Guardian[2]:
      Breakfast in bed at the royal household is a massive faff. A page boy must carry the tray upstairs, but he's banned from actually serving it. So he leaves it on the floor by the bedroom door, whereupon a housemaid picks it up and knocks on said portal.
    • 2017, Andi Watson, Glister, →ISBN:
      The fuss and faff meant Christmas had long since been drained of any joy and excitement.
  2. (typically in the phrase 'in a faff') A state of confused or frantic activity.
    Synonym: flap
    She's in a total faff about tonight's dinner party.



faff (third-person singular simple present faffs, present participle faffing, simple past and past participle faffed)

  1. (Britain, slang) To waste time on an unproductive activity.
    Synonyms: arse around, (American) dick around
    She faffed about so much, she never got to eat her breakfast.
    I decided to stop faffing about and get some work done.

Usage notesEdit


Etymology 1Edit

From Middle High German pfaffe, from Old High German pfaffo, phapho, from Latin papa, from Byzantine Greek παπᾶς (papâs), from Koine Greek πάπας (pápas), from Ancient Greek πάππας (páppas). Cognate to German Pfaffe, Dutch paap. Doublet of baabost.


faff m (plural faffen)

  1. (Luserna, Sette Comuni) priest
    De faffen luughent naach dar zéel bon lòiten.
    Priests heal people's souls.

Etymology 2Edit

(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


faff ?

  1. (Luserna) lily (flower)


  • “faff” in Martalar, Umberto Martello; Bellotto, Alfonso (1974) Dizionario della lingua Cimbra dei Sette Communi vicentini, 1st edition, Roana, Italy: Instituto di Cultura Cimbra A. Dal Pozzo
  • Patuzzi, Umberto, ed., (2013) Luserna / Lusérn: Le nostre parole / Ünsarne börtar / Unsere Wörter [Our Words], Luserna, Italy: Comitato unitario delle isole linguistiche storiche germaniche in Italia / Einheitskomitee der historischen deutschen Sprachinseln in Italien