Have you ever been about to start a task only to find yourself idly flicking through the paper, stroking the cat and generally delaying the inevitable? In that case you have “faffed.”

A versatile British slang word, “to faff” means to waste time essentially doing nothing. Many of us are expert faffers. 

Personally, I am a big fan of what I like to call “The Five Minute Faff.” This particular method of faffing is used exclusively for when I’m about to leave the house.

With my coat and shoes on and the door slightly open, I suddenly feel the urge to double check my lipstick, search around the bedroom for a packet of tissues for my handbag, and try on a different coat. After about five minutes of faffing, I am finally ready to make my way outside. 

We all love to faff, but being on the receiving end of a faffer can be extremely annoying. Picture the scene I mentioned above and now put yourself in the shoes of my poor boyfriend, who is standing at the door waiting for me. There is only so much he can take before he starts shouting, “Stop faffing around, we need to leave!” I rue the day I taught him that expression, but he’s not wrong. Faffing is annoying.

When to faff 

If you must faff (and I must), I suggest trying to limit your faffing to Sundays. Sunday is a perfect day to faff. With little on the calendar, you can faff around to your heart’s content, then look back upon the day warm in the knowledge that you have achieved absolutely nothing except for “faffing about the apartment.” 

If you must faff (and I must), I suggest trying to limit your faffing to Sundays.

Now that you’re familiar with faffing, I’m going to throw another usage at you. (Yes, I did say that faff was versatile.) “To faff” is one thing, but if an event or task “was a faff,” then it essentially means that it was a burden or chore. For example, “I had to take the back road today because the freeway was shut; it was a real faff.” 

So now that you know what faffing is, go forth and faff. You have no idea how much I faffed around before writing this article, but I got there in the end. And now that I’ve written it, I realize it wasn’t such a faff after all. 

Faffers unite! (But only after we’ve spent five minutes faffing around before we leave the house.) Now, where did I put my lipstick….

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