Gofering - goffering - gophering

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Two tools exist which are called goffering (or gauffering) and gofering (or gauphering) irons, one involved in clothing and the other in cooking. (The derivation is from a French word meaning 'honeycomb: see below for more detail.) They are nothing to do with the animals called gophers.

  • In textiles, and particularly in clothing, the (rare) term goffering [e.g. iron] should be spelled thus. The spelling 'gophering' is an error.
Goffering is the process of forming a wavy edge on a frill or ruff, in outdated costume. (It can be seen in the ruffs (~ collars) worn by gentlemen in Elizabethan England, and by pastors in modern Denmark.) A goffering iron is a cone-shaped tool for forming the curved edges. The word is derived from the French verb gaufrer, which explains the correct spelling - and the permissible alternative, gauffer.
  • There is also a gofering or gauffering iron used in the kitchen - to make gaufres (or gofers). These are thin cakes formed by pouring batter onto the iron which is made with a honeycomb pattern.
  • Gopher is the name of several species of animal whose common characteristics are: they are native to North America; they make burrows in the ground. The best-known of these is a rodent. (It is also a nickname for inhabitants of various States, etc; and for miners, and various activities in mines.) There is a verb 'to gopher', meaning 'to burrow', or to start a small, unofficial mine.
Oddly, there is a theory, plausible but unsupported by any evidence, that the two words are linked etymologically - the French gaufrer is derived from a noun gaufre meaning 'a honeycomb'. The frill or ruff is fancied to look like a honeycomb, and the animals may honeycomb the ground (=leave it looking like a honeycomb).

You may want to see gofer - gopher

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