Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Botany Thin dry bracts or scales, especially:
  • n. Botany The dry bracts enclosing mature grains of wheat and some other cereal grasses, removed during threshing.
  • n. Botany The scales or bracts borne on the receptacle among the small individual flowers of many plants in the composite family.
  • n. Finely cut straw or hay used as fodder.
  • n. Trivial or worthless matter: ignored the picky, unimportant criticisms that were just a lot of chaff.
  • n. Strips of metal, foil, or glass fiber with a metal content, cut into various lengths and having varying frequency responses, that are used to reflect electromagnetic energy as a radar countermeasure. These materials, usually dropped from aircraft, also can be deployed from shells or rockets.
  • transitive v. To make fun of in a good-natured way; tease.
  • intransitive v. To engage in playful teasing. See Synonyms at banter.
  • n. Good-natured teasing; banter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The inedible parts of a grain-producing plant.
  • n. By extension, any excess or unwanted material, resource, or person; anything worthless.
  • n. Loose material dropped from aircraft specifically to interfere with radar detection.
  • v. To use light, idle language by way of fun or ridicule; to banter.
  • v. To make fun of; to turn into ridicule by addressing in ironical or bantering language; to quiz.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The glumes or husks of grains and grasses separated from the seed by threshing and winnowing, etc.
  • n. Anything of a comparatively light and worthless character; the refuse part of anything.
  • n. Straw or hay cut up fine for the food of cattle.
  • n. Light jesting talk; banter; raillery.
  • n. The scales or bracts on the receptacle, which subtend each flower in the heads of many Compositæ, as the sunflower.
  • intransitive v. To use light, idle language by way of fun or ridicule; to banter.
  • transitive v. To make fun of; to turn into ridicule by addressing in ironical or bantering language; to quiz.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To assail with sarcastic banter or raillery; banter; make game of; ridicule; tease; quiz; worry. [Colloq.]
  • Synonyms See taunt.
  • To use bantering or ironical language by way of ridicule, teasing, or quizzing.
  • To cut into chaff. See chaff, n., 2.
  • To mix with chaff.
  • To furnish with chaff.
  • n. The glumes or husks of wheat, oats, or other grain and grasses, especially when separated from the seed by threshing and winnowing.
  • n. Straw cut small for the food of cattle.
  • n. Figuratively, paltry refuse; worthless matter, especially that which is light and apt to be driven by the wind.
  • n. In botany, the scales or bracts which subtend the individual flowers in the heads of many Compositæ.
  • n. A name among fishermen for the finer kinds of seaweed.
  • n. Banter; sarcastic or teasing raillery.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. material consisting of seed coverings and small pieces of stem or leaves that have been separated from the seeds
  • n. foil in thin strips; ejected into the air as a radar countermeasure
  • v. be silly or tease one another

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English chaf, from Old English ceaf.
Possibly alteration of chafe or chaff1.

Examples

Comments

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  • This word was used in an episode of "The Borgias." when Lucretizia was talking about Rome's poor.

    June 23, 2012

  • Very Maslowian.

    March 19, 2011

  • No fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where hunger is; and as to superstition, beliefs, and what you may call principles, they are less than chaff in a breeze.

    -Heart of Darkness (Conrad)

    March 19, 2011

  • note the verb form, meaning to tease good-naturedly; jest, banter.

    February 23, 2007