Green’s Dictionary of Slang

gaff n.1

[Rom. gav, a town, esp. a market town]

1. [mid-18C–early 19C] a fair.

2. [late 18C–1950s] a cheap music hall or theatre; also attrib.

3. [19C+] a show, an exhibition.

4. [early 19C] a brothel.

5. [late 19C+] a prison.

6. [late 19C+] a place, an area, e.g. a street.

7. [20C+] a house or shop, a home.

8. [20C+] a club.

9. [1910s] (UK Und.) a warehouse.

10. [1910s–60s] a job, an occupation.

11. in attrib. use of sense 9.

12. [1930s] a dance hall.

13. [1930s] (UK Und.) a place chosen for a robbery.

14. [1930s–40s] (US Und.) a crooked casino or similar place designed to fleece innocent victims.

15. [1930s+] (also gaffe) a hotel.

16. [1930s+] a bar.

17. [1930s+] a restaurant.

18. [1960s] (UK Und.) a prostitute’s room, where she works, but usu. does not live.

In phrases

blow the gaff (v.) (also gaff the blow, split the gaff)

1. [early 19C+] to reveal a secret, esp. a hoax or deception; to inform.

2. [late 19C+] (US) to make a mess of, to bungle.

frame the gaff (v.)

[1940s] (US Und.) of a confidence trickster, to set up the room where a victim is to be fleeced.

penny gaff (n.) (also threepenny gaff)

[mid–late 19C] a cheap theatre or music-hall.