Gofer vs. gopher

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Gophers are several species of burrowing rodents native to North America. A gofer is an employee who performs menial tasks and runs errands. Gofer is a new word, having arisen in the U.S. in the second half of the 20th century, and it derives from the phrase go for, as in go for coffee or go for lunch. Gofers are people who go for things. The word was sometimes spelled gopher in early use, but gofer is now standard.


From spring to autumn a gopher makes short vertical holes, crops vegetation around the edge, and then fills the hole level with the surface. [Sierra Nevada Natural History (1963)]

And the entire production looks rather like a Radio City Music Hall show into whose producers’ and designers’ coffee cups the gofer had slipped some LSD. [New Yorker (1971)]

Pocket-gopher ghost towns exist, mounded plains where the only evidence of gopher activity is miles and miles of silent, abandoned tunnels. [Backpacker (1981)]

Acting as the agent’s gofer is a good way to learn the tricks of the trade. [Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (1986)]

He cops to mailing a dead gopher to a publishing house, and attacking an ABC executive. [Film Threat (2007)]

A woman described as the “gofer” for the alleged bosses behind the world’s largest seizure of ecstasy in Melbourne has become the 20th of 25 defendants to be granted bail. [The Age (2008)]