The part of the P.G.Wodehose's text reads:

It is my painful task to inform you,” he said, “that Smythe, though still living in a sort of way, is for all practical purposes no more. He is going to be married.” “Married!” I gasped. “Smythe! The perfect bachelor, the chaffer at Cupid, the mocker at matrimony, the detester of domesticity! Surely you are thinking of another Smythe. You have mistaken the name.”

I looked up "chaffer " at the dictionary. The meaning "mocker"(colloquial) suits me but I think it should have a direct meaning. Another meaning is "to make a bargain, to discuss price". Does it have some influence here? The following words "detester"– from " to detest","mocker"– from "to mock".So what does the "chaffer " do? Does he mock,tease or make a bargain?

Thanks in advance. I need to distinguish between the mocker and the chaffer here somehow.

1 Answer 1


"Chaffer" means

One who engages in banter or good-natured teasing.

The person of referrence, Mr. Smythe, was considered as "the perfect bachelor". He never got married and people around him and those who knew him never expected him to tie the knot. The author has used a few phrases to describe him, such as:

"The perfect bachelor, the chaffer at Cupid, the mocker at matrimony, the detester of domesticity."

Now, why has the author referred to Smythe as a "chaffer at cupid" ?

You know what Cupid does. He shoots an arrow at you, and you fall in love (that's how the story goes, or so I've been told). Smythe has never committed himself to a serious relationship, serious enough to think about getting married. So we could say that he was playing with Cupid, and Cupid always lost. He was 'teasing' Cupid. It is believed that Cupid could make anybody fall in love, anybody but Smythe. And that's how his reputation preceded him. It could mean he was mocking Cupid, but it could also mean that he was playing with him, or rather 'teasing' him.

I believe it has nothing to do with making a "bargain". As a "mocker" is a person who mocks, a "chaffer" is a person who chaffs or banters.

Now to answer this question,

What's the real difference between mocking and chaffering?

"Mocking" is defined as:

to attack or treat with ridicule, contempt, or derision. To laugh at or make fun of (someone or something) especially by copying an action or a way of behaving or speaking.

"Chaffing" is defined as:

to mock, tease, or jest in a good-natured way; banter.

  • To be precise, the first is harmless joking while the second is offensive, right?
    – V.V.
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 10:21
  • Yes, you could say that. Some people do not accept mockery very well. They might get offended by it. Whereas 'chaffering' would involve a light, good-natured and fun-spirited wit or a remark, that wouldn't irritate the listener to much.
    – Varun Nair
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 10:25
  • As the OP states, the verb for bargaining is chaffer, the one for teasing is chaff. Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 10:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .