What the hell is a 'taffer,' anyway?Edit

Nay, simpleton. Knowest thou not to say 'Taffer' is to speak the name of the defeated adversary, the Trickster? 'Tis a corruption--a cloaking that acknowledges him without intent--and gives him an entry into thy thoughts.'
  — Hammerite[1]

Taffer: Walkthrough WriterEdit

This is a question that many Thief fans have asked countless times. I received a few emails regarding this, and here is what I've derived from them:

  • There is a Mother Goose nursery rhyme that contains the line(s),
    Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief.
    "Taffy" is a slang name for a Welshman.
  • At least one other person has suggested to me that "Taffer" is a dilution of "Trickster", much like in modern English "Darn" is a dilution of "Damn", and "Heck" is a dilution of "Hell".
  • Someone wrote in to suggest that "Taffer" was merely a censoring word, that could be replaced with any appropriate expletive. (Or perhaps more likely, a sort of "medieval cuss-word", as he put it.)
  • I've been informed that in Suffolk, England, there is a verb, "to taff", which means "to spit". So a Taffer would be a Spitter.
  • Apparently there is some point in the game (which I have either missed or not yet gotten to), where a Hammerite makes reference to the fact that "Taffer" and "Trickster" are synonymous. It is also possible that this is simply to mean that the word is a taboo (similar to many Christian priests and clergy claiming that taking the lord's name in vain, as in "God damn", is letting the devil into the heart of the one who utters it).[2]
  • From Von Sybel's History and Literature of the Crusades- "Peter the Hermit became their spiritual leader and saint; they moreover elected a military commander whom they called Tafur, the Turkish for King of the Beggars; and laid down certain rules; for instance, no one was to be tolerated among them who possessed any money; he must either quit their honorable community, or hand over his property to the King of the Beggars for the common fund. The princes and knights did not venture into their camp except in large bodies and well armed; and the Turks said of the Tafurs, that at they liked nothing so well to eat as the roasted flesh of their enemies."

The True Meaning Of "Taffer"Edit

From PC Accelerator, interview with Steve Pearsall, project designer of Thief. The question, "What is a Taffer and where did it come from?" The Answer, "One of our level designers, Laura Baldwin, made it up. Taffer was meant to be a slang word that meant a common criminal, but has evolved into meaning any sort of low life." [3]

Foreign Language AdaptionsEdit

In different languages of Thief, the word taffer does not exist.[4] In the Russian, French, and German version, appropriate curses are used instead, i.e., villain, fool, retard, etc.

The Polish version has its own translation of taffer, "łacher". It compilates "łach", meaning "clout"; "łachudra", meaning "scoundrel, scamp, rouge"; with the suffix "er", that is used in lowbrow type dialect, and/or an indication of a persons expertise.

The Hungarian translation uses "bumburnyák" for taffer. It is like "silly", or "poor sod" in the meaning between the original and modern usage. Similarly to "taffer", this word cannot be found in regular dictionaries and sounds comic rather than obscene so guards can say it to each other and really bad guys as well.

Others substitute appropriate swears according to intensity, such as, "lotor", "gauner", "hajzel", "darebák", "zlodej", etc.

Other MediaEdit

The draconic language introduced in Bethesda Softwork's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a hidden reference to the Thief series in the form of the word for thief, tafiir. [5]


  1. Hammerite 1 - HM1C0352
  2. Taffer's Thief Walkthrough
  3. Taffer's Thief Walkthrough
  4. Question for non english taffers (Dj Riff, DrK, Beleg Cúthalion, Bukary Herr_Garrett, Petike the Taffer (TTLG))
  5. Elder Scrolls: Dragon Language Common Words