How strong an insult is "daft?"

So I know ‘daft’ is an insult, just not how insulting. Is it on par with “You’re a f____ing idiot” or much milder, like you’re just a little bit dumb?

In my experience, it’s a fairly uncommon term in the U.S., and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that a lot of Americans don’t really know what it means. I’m familiar with it, mostly from watching TV and movies from England (where it’s more commonly used), and I’d interpret it as “more than just a little bit dumb, but maybe not quite f***ing stupid.”

Daft is a common mild/moderate and often jocular insult in the U.K. The common expression that comes most readily to mind is “you daft cunt”, mild mockery that one man might direct toward another male friend who just said or did something foolish.

“Daft bint” also comes to mind as a somewhat harsher term for a foolish female.

But if you really wanted to insult someone, it’s not a word you’d choose.

Rather than just stupid, it implies being a bit crazy as well. I would compare it to looney. It’s basically humorous, not a serious insult.

Punks don’t seem to mind it; some of them even embrace the term.

I’d say pretty mild, probably on a par with ‘dumb’ in US English, but with an added connotation of ‘a little bit crazy/not all there’. For example, an old lady (I don’t know exactly why, but it seems to me this is a typical person who might say it) might say “you must think I’m going daft” if they thought someone was trying to trick or cheat them in some way.

I also remember my mum (who would NEVER swear) using the term “you daft apeth” as an insult, which I believe is a corruption of “daft ha’pennyworth”, i.e. a silly person of little significance.

I would say it’s very mild, and generally said with an undercurrent of affection.

I would happily say ‘don’t be daft’ to a colleague without fear of being sent to HR, or use the phrase in front of my mother.

I would also say it implies a wide variety of meaning - not just dumb, it could also mean silly or jokey.

I always assumed it was a version of “daffy”. Am I wrong?


Yep, it’s a word you’d choose to mildly berate someone who you care enough about to not wish to offend.

I guess they mean the same thing - not that I ever here someone use ‘daffy’.

I would say it’s very mild and in my experience, it’s almost always self-applied. One might refer to oneself as being daft after absentmindedly failing at some minor task or goal. In actual use, I doubt I’ve ever heard of anyone calling someone else “daft”.

The fact that I live in the central plains region of the United States probably has some bearing on that as well.

My Mum would also use that to us. It’s a great phrase. Usually said when I’ve done something mildly stupid but without consequence.

Daft is also sometimes used to describe an infatuation, as in ‘she is daft about him’ or ‘he is daft about her’.

Not a particularly severe insult, and especially not when used in this format.

Ditto. When I was a child I thought it was something to do with apes.

Moved over to IMHO from Café.

God, I have, it’s quite standard in the UK.

Unfortunately, I don’t live there.

Daffy is probably derived from daft. Daft goes back to c. 1200, while daffy is first referenced in 1884, possibly also influenced by obsolete “daffe,” a halfwit. But the meanings are similar.

Yep, bang on. Also, IMHO, it’s more of a northern English expression. I’d associate it particularly with Yorkshire and possibly Lancashire.


I didn’t know until now that “daffy” was a real word, I had only ever come across in the cartoon character. Is it in common use in the U.S.?