Gaffe  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A gaffe a foolish error, especially one made in public. It is a verbal mistake made in a social environment. The mistake may come from saying something that is true, but inappropriate. It may also be an erroneous attempt to reveal a truth. Finally, gaffes can be malapropisms, grammatical errors or other verbal and gestural weaknesses or revelations through body language. Actually revealing factual or social truth through words or body language, however, can commonly result in embarrassment or, when the gaffe has negative connotations, friction between people involved.

A grammatical or literary error is more embarrassing in the company of intellectuals, professors or serious students, just as errors of science can be embarrassing among scientists or doctors. The protagonist attorney in the film Liar Liar plays on the nature of truth revelation, however, and its ambiguous or unexpected consequences.

As used by some journalists, particularly sportswriters, "gaffe" becomes an imagined synonym for any kind of mistake, e.g., a dropped ball by a player in a baseball game. Philosophers and psychologists interested in the nature of the gaffe include Freud and Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze, in his Logic of Sense, places the gaffe in a developmental process that can culminate in stuttering.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gaffe" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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