From Middle English dafte, defte (“gentle; having good manners; humble, modest; awkward; dull; boorish”), from Old English dæfte (“accommodating; gentle, meek, mild”), ġedæfte (“gentle, meek, mild”), from Proto-Germanic *daftuz (“appropriate, apt, convenient, suitable; decent; accommodating, agreeable”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *dʰabʰ- (“fitting; to fit together”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /dɑːft/
- (UK, General American) enPR: dăft, IPA(key): /dæft/
- Rhymes: -ɑːft, -æft
- (chiefly Britain, informal) Foolish, silly, stupid.
- a daft idea
- 1602, David Lyndesay [i.e., David Lyndsay], Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits, in Commendation of Vertew and Vitvperation of Vyce, Edinburgh: Printed be Robert Charteris, OCLC 17643155; republished as Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits, in Commendation of Vertew and Vitvperation of Vyce (Early English Text Society, Original Series; no. 37), [London: Published for the Early English Text Society, by N[icholas] Trübner & Co., 1869], OCLC 2941666, lines 2008–2010, page 451:
- 1819, Jedadiah Cleishbotham [pseudonym; Walter Scott], chapter II, in Tales of My Landlord, Third Series. [...] In Four Volumes, volume III (A Legend of Montrose), Edinburgh: Printed [by James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; […], OCLC 277985465, pages 188–189:
- So that if a boor complains of a broken-head, or a beer-seller of a broken can, or a daft wench does but squeak loud enough to be heard above her breath, a soldier of honour shall be dragged, not before his own court-martial, who can best judge of and punish his demerits, but before a base mechanical burgo-master, who shall menace him with the rasp-house, the cord, and what not, as if he were one of their own mean, amphibious, twenty-breeched boors.
- 1985, George MacDonald Fraser, chapter 1, in Flashman and the Dragon: From the Flashman Papers, 1860, London: Collins Harvill, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Plume, 1987, →ISBN:
- In case you haven't heard of them [the Taipings], I must tell you that they were another of those incredible phenomena that made China the topsy-turvey mess it was, like some fantastic land from Gulliver, where everything was upside down and out of kilter. Talk about moonbeams from cucumbers; the Taipings were even dafter than that.
- (chiefly Britain, informal) Crazy, insane, mad.
- 1824 June, [Walter Scott], “Darsie Latimer’s Journal, in Continuation. Sheet 2.”, in Redgauntlet, a Tale of the Eighteenth Century. [...] In Three Volumes, volume II, Edinburgh: Printed [by James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., OCLC 926803915, pages 143–144:
- "Ow, he is just a wood harum-scarum creature, that wad never take to his studies;—daft, sir, clean daft." / […] / "[W]owff—a wee bit by the East-Nook or sae; it's a common case—the ae half of the warld thinks t'other daft. I have met with folks in my day, that thought I was daft mysell; […]" / "I cannot make out a word of his cursed brogue," said the Cumbrian justice; "can you, neighbour—eh? What can he mean by deft?" / "He means mad", said the party appealed to, thrown off his guard by impatience of this protracted discussion.
- 1843 April, “The Vale of Glencoe: A Tale of Scotland”, in The Knickerbocker, or New-York Monthly Magazine, volume XXI, number 4, New York, N.Y.: Published by John Allen, […], OCLC 1042245072, page 339:
- The boy gathered himself up, shook his shaggy head, and, said, in a piteous tone: 'Davie's daft!' 'Davie's daft!' He then kicked the poor idiot till his cries attracted the attention of the guests, some of whom immediately came to the spot: […]
- 1876, S[arah] R. Whitehead, “On the Wrong Coach”, in Daft Davie and Other Sketches of Scottish Life and Character, London: Hodder and Stoughton, […], OCLC 58040708, page 220:
- ‘It’s a lee [lie],’ says the man; ‘she’s either drunk or daft.’ / ‘Me drunk, you ill-tongued vagabond!’ says my Auntie Kirsty, who couldna bear such a reproach on her good name, ‘I’m a’ but blackfasting this day from either meat or drink; you had better no meddle wi’ my character.’
- (obsolete) Gentle, meek, mild.
- 1825, Allan Cunningham, compiler, “Who’s at My Window”, in The Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern; […] In Four Volumes, volume III, London: Printed for John Taylor, […], OCLC 847583, page 334:
- ^ “dafte, adj.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 28 June 2018.
- ^ James A. H. Murray [et al.], editor (1884–1928), “Daft, a.”, in A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford English Dictionary), volume III (D–E), London: Clarendon Press, OCLC 15566697, page 6, column 2.
- Alternative form of