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From Middle English chaf, from Old English ċeaf, from Proto-Germanic *kafą. Cognate with Scots caff, Saterland Frisian Sääf, West Frisian tsjêf, Dutch kaf, German Low German Kaff, regional German Kaff.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /tʃæf/, /tʃɑːf/
Audio (UK) (file)
- (US) IPA(key): /tʃæf/
- Rhymes: -æf
- The inedible parts of a grain-producing plant.
- Coordinate term: bran
- To separate out the chaff, early cultures tossed baskets of grain into the air and let the wind blow away the lighter chaff.
- 1700, [John] Dryden, “The Cock and the Fox: Or, The Tale of the Nun’s Priest, from Chaucer”, in Fables Ancient and Modern; […], London: […] Jacob Tonson, […], OCLC 228732415:
- So take the corn and leave the chaff behind.
- 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 251:
- In the passage outside the door, the threshers, who had done their day's work, were stamping the snow off their feet before they came in, - their hair full of chaff.
- Straw or hay cut up fine for the food of cattle.
- (figuratively) Any excess or unwanted material, resource, or person; anything worthless.
- c. 1596–1598, William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene ix]:
- the chaff and ruin of the times
- 1927-1929, Mahatma Gandhi, chapter XXI, in Mahadev Desai, transl., The Story of My Experiments with Truth, published 1940:
- Who that has prided himself on his spiritual strength has not seen it humbled to the dust? A knowledge of religion, as distinguished from experience, seems but chaff in such moments of trial.
- Light jesting talk; banter; raillery.
- (military) Loose material, e.g. small strips of aluminum foil dropped from aircraft, intended to interfere with radar detection.
- Synonym: window
inedible parts of grain plant
excess or unwanted material
straw or hay cut up for cattle food
light jesting talk
- (intransitive) To use light, idle language by way of fun or ridicule; to banter.
- (transitive) To make fun of; to turn into ridicule by addressing in ironical or bantering language; to quiz.
to use idle language to ridicule
to make fun of
- Alternative form of