Definition of caitiff in English:


See synonyms for caitiff on


  • A contemptible or cowardly person.

    as modifier ‘a caitiff knight’
    • ‘Your only comfort lay in the forced reflection, that, real as he looked, the poor caitiff was but imaginary, a bit of painted canvass, whom no delirium tremens, nor so much as a retributive headache, awaited, on the morrow.’
    • ‘Peter is a caitiff who has risen to great heights politically: however, he is still a caitiff.’
    • ‘He has for several years been playing snarling caitiffs in the wave of crime plays.’
    • ‘According to the clear meaning of the word, the holy war for the religion against the infidels and caitiffs is somewhat like a struggle against one's own desires.’
    • ‘At once I understood and was certain, that this was the sect of the caitiffs displeasing unto God, and unto his enemies.’
    contemptible, loathsome, hateful, detestable, reprehensible, abhorrent, abominable, awful, heinous, beyond the pale



/ˈkādəf/ /ˈkeɪdəf/


Middle English (denoting a captive or prisoner): from Old French caitif ‘captive’, based on Latin captivus ‘(person) taken captive’ (see captive).