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A despicable coward; a wretch.
Despicable and cowardly.

[Middle English caitif, from Norman French, from Latin captīvus, prisoner; see captive.]


a cowardly or base person
cowardly; base
[C13: from Old French caitif prisoner, from Latin captīvus captive]


(ˈkeɪ tɪf)
Archaic. n.
1. a base person; villain.
2. base; despicable.
[1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French < Latin captīvus captive]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.caitiff - a cowardly and despicable person
archaicism, archaism - the use of an archaic expression
cur - a cowardly and despicable person
Adj.1.caitiff - despicably mean and cowardly
cowardly, fearful - lacking courage; ignobly timid and faint-hearted; "cowardly dogs, ye will not aid me then"- P.B.Shelley
References in classic literature ?
Learn, caitiff, the expediency of uncalculating zeal.
I am Robin Hood, as thy caitiff carcase soon shall know.
By your dress you should be one of those cursed clerks who overrun the land like vile rats, poking and prying into other men's concerns, too caitiff to fight and too lazy to work.
What man would be so caitiff and thrall as to fail you at your need?
Of caitiff wretched thralls, that wailed night and day,
It is only when he descends from the clouds to pounce upon carrion that he betrays his low propensities, and reveals his caitiff character.
But be it known to you, brave knights, that certain murderous caitiffs, casting behind them fear of God, and reverence of his church, and not regarding the bull of the holy see, Si quis, suadende Diabolo ''
He cared for his courtesy, lest a caitiff he proved, yet more for his sad case, if he should sin commit and to the owner of the house, to his host, be a traitor.
Finally Kalpen Trivedi offers a persuasive argument for seeing a group of manuscripts oh the Pore Caitiff with 'Lollard' elements as emanating from the period of Wycliffite activity before Lollardy was formally identified, labelled, and attacked by the church.
Rooksbill, at least, takes these threats very seriously when he walks into Paris Tavern, the site of the play's climatic confrontation: "My wicked, caitiff, reprobate son is here too.
16 is not a Festial, although it is related to the Revision of the Festial); The Charter of the Abbey of the Holy Ghost and The Abbey itself (two of each); Speculum Christiani (four); The Lay Folks' Catechism (two); The Pore Caitiff (five, two complete); and so on.
The popular perception of Kang Hongnip as a coward and a corrupt traitor must have evolved soon after the war, for a biographical story known as the Story of Caitiff Kang (Kang No chon [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) was written by Kwon Ch'ik (1599-1667) in 1630.