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daft

Printable Version Pronunciation: dæft Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Stupid, foolish, crazy. 2. Giddy, exuberant, frolicsome.

Notes: Today's Good Word is quite common in the UK but never used in the US. In the US we say "daffy", as in Daffy Duck. It is so common in the UK that it has acquired quite a family of derivations there: daftish "somewhat daft", daftly "in a daft manner", daftness "the quality of being daft", and daftie "a daft person". The comparative is dafter and the superlative is daftest.

In Play: Our contributor found the following typo in a message to her: "Our Executive Director today wrote a daft memo for the legislature." Or was it a typo? Did the writer intend to type draft? We are all free to use today's Good Word as a synonym for crazy: "Are you daft?! Moscow isn't in Poland; it's the capital of Russia!"

Word History: This is one of the rare pure English words in English. In Old English it appeared as gedæfte "mild, gentle, meek". Once the Germanic prefix was lost, somewhere between Old and Middle English, the word split into daft and deft. Both deft and daft existed side by side with the same meaning for a period of time. The general sense of deft remained "mild, gentle, meek", but soon drifted to "quick and skillful". The original meaning of the word then drifted to "innocent, inoffensive", which glommed onto daft alone. This sense of daft continued to develop into what it is today. (Margie Sved certainly was not daft to suggest today's crazy Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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