Faff about


      • Waste time or procrastinate
        To describe someone who is spending time on trivial or unimportant tasks instead of focusing on important tasks or responsibilities.

      • Be indecisive or unsure
        To describe someone who is taking a long time to make a decision or is avoiding making a decision altogether.

      • Annoy or irritate
        To describe someone who is causing frustration or irritation with their actions or behavior.

    Examples of Faff about

    • Sarah spent the entire morning faffing about with her makeup. She couldn't seem to get her eyebrows just right, and ended up starting from scratch multiple times.

      To "faff about" is to spend unnecessary time or effort on something, typically due to indecision or lack of focus. In this example, Sarah's struggle with her makeup could be seen as a waste of time or effort, as she repeated the process multiple times instead of just moving forward.

    • The new employee seemed to be faffing about with the paperwork, constantly asking questions and not quite understanding the process.

      This example shows how "faffing about" can imply a lack of competence or knowledge. The new employee may have been unfamiliar with the paperwork procedures and was taking longer than necessary due to this.

    • The chef had the kitchen staff faffing about in the middle of a busy service, constantly changing the menu and causing confusion among the diners.

      This example shows how "faffing about" can lead to chaos or disorganization. The chef's indecisiveness and constant changes were causing confusion among the kitchen staff and the diners, leading to a less enjoyable dining experience.

    • The project manager kept faffing about with the timeline, moving deadlines around and causing delays.

      This example highlights how "faffing about" can also delay or impede progress. The project manager's lack of focus and indecisiveness caused delays in the project, hindering its overall success.

    • Alice tried to assemble the new camping tent, but she kept faffing about with the instructions and never seemed to be making any progress.

      In this example, the idiom "faff about" means that Alice was wasting a lot of time and being inefficient in her efforts to set up the tent by constantly referring to the instructions and not making any real progress.

    • The train conductor kept faffing about with the door handles, trying to figure out which one was broken, causing a delay in our journey.

      In this example, "faffing about" refers to the conductor's time-wasting efforts to determine which door handle was malfunctioning, causing unnecessary delays.

    • Sarah's friend was faffing about with her phone, scrolling through social media, while Sarah was trying to have a meaningful conversation with her.

      Here, "faffing about" implies that Sarah's friend was wasting time and not paying attention to her friend's communication, instead preferring to fiddle with her phone and surf the internet.

    • The plumber spent hours faffing about in the kitchen, trying to fix the leaking pipe, but he still couldn't seem to get it right.

      In this example, "faffing about" signifies that the plumber was not able to complete the repair job efficiently, as he wasted a lot of time trying to fix the pipe without success.


    "Faff about" is a versatile idiom that can be used in various contexts to describe someone who is wasting time, being indecisive, or causing annoyance. It is often used in a lighthearted or humorous manner, but can also convey frustration or criticism towards the person's actions.

    In its first usage, the idiom implies that someone is spending time on trivial or unimportant tasks, instead of focusing on more important responsibilities. This could be interpreted as a form of procrastination or laziness, and can be used in both personal and professional settings.

    The second meaning of "faff about" suggests that someone is being indecisive or unsure about a decision. This could be due to a lack of confidence or fear of making the wrong choice. The idiom can also be used to describe someone who is avoiding making a decision altogether, possibly out of laziness or a desire to avoid responsibility.

    Lastly, "faff about" can also be used to express annoyance or irritation towards someone's actions or behavior. This could refer to someone who is causing delays or disruptions, or someone who is being overly fussy or particular about something.

    Origin of "Faff about"

    The origin of "faff about" is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in British English in the early 20th century. The word "faff" is thought to be a combination of "fuss" and "daff," which means to waste time or act foolishly. Over time, the phrase "faff about" evolved to become a common idiom in British and Australian English.

    The use of "faff about" may also be influenced by the word "faffing," which means to dither or be indecisive. This word can be traced back to the early 19th century and is believed to have originated as a slang term among sailors.

    Today, "faff about" is a commonly used idiom in everyday language, especially in British and Australian cultures. Its versatility and humorous tone make it a popular phrase for describing various situations and behaviors.