Chaff: Reflections on a multi-definition word - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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Chaff: Reflections on a multi-definition word

This type of chaff interferes with radar signals. (Source: UAH) This type of chaff interferes with radar signals. (Source: UAH)
(WAFF) -

'Chaff' is an interesting word in that it has several radically different meanings, one of which we are well familiar with, being in a military area.

As we've learned in the past, chaff can be used in military operations to reflecting radar waves. It's primary use is for confusing enemy's radar detection.

However, it also shows up on Doppler weather radars used by certain television stations (ahem), and can actually register heavy returns.

MORE: Radar reflectivity caused by chaff

'Chaff' is also used to describe the seed covering and other debris separated from the seed in a thresher. This is where the old phrase "separating the wheat from the chaff" is derived from.

Another definition for chaff, based in part from that phrase, is "something comparatively worthless," according to Merriam-Webster.

It is also used as a verb meaning "to good-naturedly tease" or "banter," and as a noun for a jokester or jester.

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