noun1 a : an old man — compare gammer 2 British b : foreman, overseer c : employer 2 : a head glassblower 3 : a lighting electrician on a motion-picture or television set
Before the first day of shooting, the gaffer spent several days setting up all the lights.
“Meanwhile, almost a hundred crew members, gaffers, lighting and camera people, makeup artists, sound technicians, producers and security were outside creating scenes for ‘Draft Day.'” — From an article by Michael Heaton in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), May 15, 2013
Did you know?
Though movie and cinema buffs associate “gaffer” with Hollywood, the word actually pre-dates motion pictures by about 300 years. The first recorded use of “gaffer” dates from the 16th century, when it was used as a title of respect for an older gentleman. Later it was used as a generic noun for any elderly man, and then it picked up the sense “foreman” (still used in British English), perhaps because the foreman was the most experienced and, most likely, the oldest person in a work crew. Today “gaffer” is usually applied to the head lighting electrician on a movie set. The gaffer’s assistant is called the “best boy.”