Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
July 14th, 2015
Episode 256 of 823 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 14, 2015 is: duffer \DUFF-er\ noun 1 a : a peddler especially of cheap flashy articles b : something counterfeit or worthless 2 : an incompetent, ineffectual, or clumsy person; especially : a mediocre golfer Examples: Most of the people playing in the charity tournament were duffers, but it was all for a good cause. "The snow is melting, and the grass from the area's golf courses are beginning to look like an oasis, beckoning veterans and duffers alike." Matt Becker, Observer-Dispatch (Utica, New York), April 12, 2015 Did you know? Duffers have never really been straight shooterson or off the golf course. The original duffers of the mid-18th century were shysters of the first order, merchants who palmed off trashy goods as if they were highly valuable (they often implied to unwary buyers that the goods had been smuggled and were very rare). Over time, the meaning of duffer was extended from a no-good peddler to anyone who was "no good," not just because the individual had low morals, but because he or she was incompetent or stupid. The term has been applied to hopelessly bad golfers since the late 19th century.