Sunday, July 1, 2012


caitiff [ˈkeɪtɪf] n.

1.) Expressing contempt, and often involving strong moral disapprobation: A base, mean, despicable ‘wretch’, a villain (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: adoption of Old Northern French caitif, caitive, captive, weak, miserable: from Latin captīv-um captive. The central Old French form chaitif (whence modern French chétif, -ive, of little value, wretched, sorry, miserable) gave the English variant chaitif, frequent in 14–15th c., but did not displace the earlier Norman form. The transition of meaning has taken place more or less in most of the Romanic languages.

"O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O thou wicked
Hannibal! I respected with her before I was married
to her! If ever I was respected with her, or she
with me, let not your worship think me the poor
duke's officer. Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal, or
I'll have mine action of battery on thee."
(Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare, 1623)

(Marats død I, Edvard Munch, 1907)


Debra She Who Seeks said...

That's a new word to me!

D4 said...

Just a bit too awkward for me to actually use in a passing sentence.

Meri said...

haha- its a great word, and so is "varlet" haha- I don't even know what it means, but it sounds scathing.

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