from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. An electrician in charge of lighting on a movie or television set.
- n. Chiefly British An old man or a rustic.
- n. Chiefly British A boss or foreman.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A chief lighting technician for a motion-picture or television production.
- n. A glassblower.
- n. An old man.
- n. A foreman.
- n. An "Old Gaffer" is a sailor.
- n. In Maritime regions "the Little Gaffer" is the baby in the house. (the boss!)
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. An old fellow; an aged rustic.
- n. A foreman or overseer of a gang of laborers.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. One who gaffs fish: an angler's assistant who with a gaff secures the fish caught. Also gaffsman.
- n. An old man: originally a rustic term of respect, used as a title; later applied familiarly to any old man of rustic condition.
- n. In Great Britain, the foreman of a squad of workmen, especially of navvies; an overseer.
- n. A workman in a glass-factory; a finisher.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. an electrician responsible for lighting on a movie or tv set
- n. an elderly man
- n. a person who exercises control over workers
Probably alteration (influenced by grandfather) of godfather.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English gaffe ("a hook") + -er. The natural lighting on early film sets was adjusted by opening and closing flaps in the tent cloths, called gaff cloths or gaff flaps. (Wiktionary)
Likely a contraction of godfather, but with the vowels influenced by grandfather. Compare French compère, German gevatter. (Wiktionary)