• WordNet 3.6
    • adj caitiff despicably mean and cowardly
    • n caitiff a cowardly and despicable person
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Caitiff A captive; a prisoner.The deep-felt conviction of men that slavery breaks down the moral character . . . speaks out with . . . distinctness in the change of meaning which caitiff has undergone signifying as it now does, one of a base, abject disposition, while there was a time when it had nothing of this in it. "Avarice doth tyrannize over her caitiff and slave."
    • Caitiff A mean, despicable person; one whose character meanness and wickedness meet.
    • Caitiff A wretched or unfortunate man.
    • Caitiff Base; wicked and mean; cowardly; despicable. "Arnold had sped his caitiff flight."
    • Caitiff Captive; wretched; unfortunate.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • caitiff Captive.
    • caitiff Wretched; miserable.
    • caitiff Servile; base; ignoble; cowardly.
    • n caitiff A captive; a prisoner; a slave.
    • n caitiff A mean villain; a despicable knave; one who is both wicked and mean.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Caitiff kā′tif a mean despicable fellow
    • adj Caitiff mean, base
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. caitif, cheitif, captive, miserable, OF. caitif, chaitif, captive, mean, wretched, F. chétif, fr. L. captivus, captive, fr. capere, to take, akin to E. heave,. See Heave, and cf. Captive


In literature:

There are caitiffs and caitiffs.
"Critical Miscellanies, Vol. I" by John Morley
His chest was broad, and his arms seemed powerful; but, upon the whole, he looked a very caitiff.
"The Romany Rye a sequel to "Lavengro"" by George Borrow
Now then, speak, caitiff, and tell us what's ado with Mistress Benden.
"All's Well" by Emily Sarah Holt
Such terrible resolves passed through the mind of the wretched caitiff.
"The White Chief" by Mayne Reid
Thou art the worst caitiff to reason withal, ever mortal man did see!
"The White Rose of Langley" by Emily Sarah Holt
It is in vain to hope for Checkley's evidence, even should the caitiff priest be living.
"Rookwood" by William Harrison Ainsworth
And he knew, also, the caitiff!
"Capitola's Peril" by Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth
If so, then let the caitiff dread!
"Tobacco; Its History, Varieties, Culture, Manufacture and Commerce" by E. R. Billings
Our land thus cleared, our liberty thus saved, Our noble miners dug the caitiffs' grave.
"The Forest of Dean An Historical and Descriptive Account" by H. G. Nicholls
His chest was broad, and his arms seemed powerful; but, upon the whole, he looked a very caitiff.
"The Romany Rye A Sequel to 'Lavengro'" by George Borrow

In poetry:

Fear, the caitiff, through the night
Silent peers about;
Love comes singing with a light
And doth cast him out.
"December 27, 1879" by George MacDonald
Svend Vonved enter'd the castle yard;
There Randulph, wrapt in his skins, kept guard:
"Ho! Caitiff, ho! with shield and brand,
What art thou doing in this my land?"
Look out, look out, Svend Vonved.
"Svend Vonved" by George Borrow
For one sole mortal it remained,
One rash insulter of the Earth,
To teach the world wherein he reigned
How much a Kaiser's word is worth.
A Kaiser's word, a Caitiff's vow!
Well have we learned their value now.
"The Man Forsworn " by William Watson
Spur in flank, and lance in rest,
On the old knight's foes I flash;
The caitiffs I scatter to east and west
With clang and hurtle and crash;
Leave them the law, as knaves learn it best,
In bruise, and breach, and gash.
"The Three Horses" by George MacDonald
Now five are stretched lifeless; disabled are three!
Hard pressed, see the last caitiff reel! The brother behind struggles up on one knee,
And drives through his body the steel.
And drives though his body the steel.
caitiff – coward.
"The Feud: A Border Ballad" by Adam Lindsay Gordon
PERHAPS too far in these considerate days
Has patience carried her submissive ways;
Wisdom has taught us to be calm and meek,
To take one blow, and turn the other cheek;
It is not written what a man shall do,
If the rude caitiff smite the other too!
"Non-Resistance" by Oliver Wendell Holmes

In news:

Expugnable, ecchymosis, caitiff -- all those old bee friends are there, and some new ones too (hello, unau.