The word "caitiff" meaning Webster's sense 2 (Base; wicked and mean; cowardly; despicable) comes from the medieval Latin phrase "Captivus diaboli", that is "Prisoner of the devil". This phrase was used to address heretics, assassins, excommunicates, prostitutes and other people ruled out of the civil society.

This meaning has passed to some neo-Latin languages like Italian where the word cattivo does not have the correct Latin meaning of prisoner but rather of an evil person as first meaning.

Cai"tiff (?), a. [OE. caitif, cheitif, captive, miserable, OF. caitif, chaitif, captive, mean, wretched, F. ch'etif, fr. L. captivus captive, fr. capere to take, akin to E. heave. See Heave, and cf. Captive.]


Captive; wretched; unfortunate.




Base; wicked and mean; cowardly; despicable.

Arnold had sped his caitiff flight. W. Irving.


© Webster 1913.

Cai"tiff, n.

A captive; a prisoner.


Avarice doth tyrannize over her caitiff and slave. Holland.


A wretched or unfortunate man.




A mean, despicable person; one whose character meanness and wickedness meet.

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.



© Webster 1913.

Caitiff is a term used in a series of books (World of Darkness, Masquerade, and Kindred) published by White Wolf Publishing, Inc.

In the series, Caitiff are a group of clanless Kindred(vampires).

An excerpt from "Camarila's Caitiff Page"(

"Caitiff are the clanless Kindred. For whatever reason they have not been adopted into a clan, and are not recognized as full Kindred by the Camarilla. Usually their Sire has abandoned them; they may never have been presented before a Prince, and may not be fully schooled in the ways of Kindred.

Caitiff are an increasing problem for the Camarilla. The Traditions state clearly that the Siring of Kindred is to be strictly controlled by the Elder of a city (usually interpreted to be the Prince), as controlling Kindred numbers is essential. But in the modern age there has been somewhat of a population explosion in Caitiffs - with more population to feed off, they more often go unnoticed. As they are frequently uneducated in the ways of Kindred they may Embrace further Kindred without fully understanding what they are doing, or just out of loneliness. Thus, unchecked by any authority (apart from occasional cults organized by Princes or the Camarilla) their numbers grow.

Most other kindred treat them like scum. To most of them Caitiff have no right to life, ideally shouldbe put down at the earliest opportunity, and they are little more than vermin. Caitiff frequently have pretty miserable lives. They have no clan resources to draw on, no natural friends to turn to, and may be largely unschooled in Disciplines, and otherparts of Kindred life. Survival is difficult.

Nowadays most of the larger cities of the world have a few Caitiff. They are seen as a form of environmental pollution by many Kindred, and there is increasing discussion about how to solve 'the Caitiff problem'. The Caitiff are growing in number, and as their number grows the danger they present to Kindred grows - they endanger the Masquerade, take up valuable resources of blood, and are an increasingly uncontrollable force in many cities. They also act as a recruiting ground for Sabbat infiltrators and Anarch terrorists.

There is no organization of Caitiff outside of the Sabbat (who acknowledge them as a Clan in their own right - yet another sign of their degeneration from the Camarilla perspective), and so Caitiff are pretty much on their own. Throughout most of the Camarilla killing a Caitiff is a bit like killing a mad dog - not something you want to be doing, something you'd prefer someone else did on your behalf, but no big issue really, and better in the long run for everyone."

An excerpt from "Caitiff"(

"Some kindred do not have a clan at all, but are of bastard blood. This sometimes because they were abandoned by their sire, or were Embraced by an outcast vampire. A combination of thinness of blood and lack of social training has made them Clanless. This is a fairly recent phenomenon, and thus they are disdained by many of the other Kindred. Through many Caitiff are considered to be pariahs or anarchs, not all of them are outcasts. Some are acceppected among the Damned, although few have yet reached an age where they have achieved any real power. Indeed, it seems as though the greatest explosion of the Clanless has incurred in the last 50 years."

The monkey turns to flee

You hit the monkey

You caitiff!

This is the Nethack message you see if you are
lawful knight and attack a fleeing monster.
It is also one of the random insults you might
receive (see Nethack insults).

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