Sunday, April 19, 2009

Word of the Week (April 19-25): gaff

Word of the Week: April 19 - April 25


Definition according to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

gaff n also gaft. Cp OED ~ sb1 1 b (1656-), DAE 2 (1832-), EDD sb1 2 for sense 1; DC Nfld (1883-) for sense 2; OED sb1 5 ~ hook (1844-) for comb in sense 3.

1 A type of boat-hook with a (usu short) wooden handle, used for various fisheries purposes; HAND-GAFF.

1745 OSBORNE 822 [They] drew [porpoises] aboard, with the help of the other sailors, which, with iron hooks, which they call Gaffes, tied at the end of a long pole, pulled them up.

1819 ANSPACH 429 If [the cod] is of large size, it is seized, as soon as raised to the surface of the water, with a gaff or large hook fixed to the end of a pole.

1832 MCGREGOR i, 227 The cod ... is lifted into the boat ... by a strong iron hook fixed on the end of a short pole, called a gaft.

1911 LINDSAY 50 Each man carried a spruce pole, on the end of which was a sort of boat hook called a 'gaff.'

1967 Bk of Nfld iv, 246 And then there was a gaff; that is a stick with a hook in one end of it. It is used to pull fish in over the boat with. C 67-14 When a man who is a member of the Society of United Fishermen is buried, a gaff is broken in two pieces and placed in the grave. The gaff is used (as well as to pick up fish) also for guiding a boat into the wharf or reaching things almost out of reach. M 68-7 Gaft. Used on board a punt to pick up the buoys or the salmon nets. There are gafts of all sizes; some handles are short while others are long. There is a hook fastened to the end of the stick with some service around it.

1971 NOSEWORTHY 203 ~ A stick placed in the side of a dory and used to guide the hauling of trawls.

2 A stout pole, 5-8 feet (1.5-2.4 m) long with an iron hook and spike fastened to one end, used to assist a sealer on the ice and to kill seals; BAT n.

1842 JUKES i, 260 Every man prepared his'gaff,' by firmly fastening a spiked hook like a boat-hook, with strong line, to the head of a stout pole, about six or eight feet long.

1873 Maritime Mo i, 254 He carries ... a stick six or eight feet long, which is called a 'gaff,' and serves as a bat or club to strike the seal on the nose, where it is vulnerable, and also as an ice-pole in leaping from 'pan' to 'pan,' as well as for dragging the skin and fat of the seal over the fields and hummocks of ice, to the side of the vessel. To answer these purposes, the gaff is armed with an iron hook at one end and bound with iron.

[1884] 1897 Nfld Law Reports 35 For the purpose of preventing competition and anticipating the arrival and active participation of others in the fruits of the ice-fields, kill as they go with a blow of a gaff, taking no heed to collect and pan and mark their spoil...

[c1900] 1978 RLS 8, p. 25 ~ small stick used by the seal hunter for killing or stunning the seals, usually Dogwood or spruce.

1906 DUNCAN 134 Billy's father led me down to the landing-stage, put a gaff in my hand, and warned me to be careful—warned me particularly not to take a step without sounding the ice ahead with my gaff.

1916 MURPHY 28 The men had to use a sealing gaff to beat off the dog.

1924 ENGLAND 54 An' de odders'll haul ye out wid dey gaves [gaffs]—if ye don't get too far away from de gang.

1927 DOYLE (ed) 39 "Hunting Seals": With bat and gaff and 'panning staff' / Surmounted with a flag, sir; / Away we go on the great iceflow, / And we never care to lag, sir. T 43-64 If the ice was in, you'd walk off from the land, an' you'd have your gaff with you and your sealing rope, and probably you get the chance to kill one, two, or three or four.

1979 Salt Water, Fresh Water 53 We'd have a gaff you know, with a hook into her. The gaff was long enough to take you from one pan [of ice] to another, about seven or eight feet in length.

3 In designations of various parts and uses of 'gaffs' in senses 1, 2 above: ~ head, ~ hook, -point, ~ stem, ~ stick, ~ work.

1892 Christmas Review 11 Fires were blazing in the forges; sharp and clear rang out the sound of anvils, re-echoing to the stroke of the sturdy smith as he fashioned the iron 'gaff-heads' for the impatient sealing captains.

[1771] 1792 CARTWRIGHT i, 141 I caught one [salmon] with a gaff-hook.

1924 ENGLAND 304 At the critical moment the gaff hook tore through the seal's fat and hide, and away his sealship surged with a mighty splash, leaving the man empty handed and agape. Ibid 87 An' you, there, don't putt y'r gaff p'int down! Remember, arr hole in a skin, aft o' the fippers, is ten cents out o' y'r pocket.

1905 CHAFE 6 The procuring of timber from the woods, building vessels, repairing those already in use, building punts, procuring firewood, gaffstems, bats, pokers, oars and other material left nobody with an excuse for being idle.

1924 ENGLAND 44 Some fell to work seizing cruel points on gaff sticks with a kind of tarred cord known as 'spun yarn.' Ibid 239 The season is over when many of the young can be taken. They have gone, either into the fleet's reeking holds or into the Atlantic. Gaff-work recedes; Winchesters come to the fore.

The word of the week is brought to you each week by Rattling Books, a "so small we're fine" Canadian audiobook publisher operating from its global headquarters atop a tor on the coast of Newfoundland.

Each Sunday morning Rattling Books joins Angela Antle on the CBC Radio's Weekend Arts Magazine to release and chat about the word of the week.

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