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    G — gallop (n.)


    seventh letter of the alphabet, invented by the Romans; a modified gamma introduced c. 250 B.C.E. to restore a dedicated symbol for the "g" sound. For fuller history, see C.ETD G.2

    Before the vowels -e-, -i-, and -y-, Old English initial g- changed its sound and is represented in Modern English by consonantal y- (year, yard, yellow, young, yes, etc.). In get and give, however, the initial g- seems to have been preserved by Scandinavian influence. Also see gu-.ETD G.3

    As a movie rating in the U.S., 1966, standing for general (adj.). In physics, as an abbreviation of gravity, by 1785.ETD G.4

    gas (n.2)

    short for gasoline, American English, by 1905. Gas-pump is from 1925; gas-pedal "automobile accelerator" is by 1908; gas-station "fueling station for an automobile" is from 1916.ETD gas (n.2).2

    gas (n.1)

    1650s, from Dutch gas, probably from Greek khaos "empty space" (see chaos). The sound of Dutch "g" is roughly equivalent to that of Greek "kh." First used by Flemish chemist J.B. van Helmont (1577-1644), probably influenced by Paracelsus, who used khaos in an occult sense of "proper elements of spirits" or "ultra-rarified water," which was van Helmont's definition of gas.ETD gas (n.1).2

    Modern scientific sense began 1779, with later secondary specialization to "combustible mix of vapors" (1794, originally coal gas); "anesthetic" (1894, originally nitrous oxide); and "poison gas" (1900). Meaning "intestinal vapors" is from 1882. "The success of this artificial word is unique" [Weekley]. Slang sense of "empty talk" is from 1847; slang meaning "something exciting or excellent" first attested 1953, from earlier hepster slang gasser in the same sense (1944). Gas also meant "fun, a joke" in Anglo-Irish and was used so by Joyce (1914). Gas-works is by 1817. Gas-oven is from 1851 as a kitchen appliance; gas-stove from 1848.ETD gas (n.1).3

    gas (v.)

    1886, "to supply with (illuminating) gas," from gas (n.1). Sense of "poison with gas" is from 1889 as an accidental thing, from 1915 as a military attack. In old slang also "talk nonsense, lie to." Related: Gassed; gassing; gasses.ETD gas (v.).2

    gab (v.)

    "talk much," 1786, probably via Scottish and northern England dialect from earlier sense "speak foolishly; talk indiscreetly" (late 14c.), from gabben "to scoff, jeer; mock (someone), ridicule; reproach (oneself)," also "to lie to" (late 13c.), from a Scandinavian source, such as Old Norse gabba "to mock, make fun of," and probably in part from Old French gaber "to mock, jest; brag, boast," which, too, is from Scandinavian. Ultimately perhaps imitative (compare gabble, which might have shaded the sense of this word). Gabber was Middle English for "liar, deceiver; mocker." Related: Gabbed; gabbing.ETD gab (v.).2

    gab (n.)

    "action of talking," earlier "chatter, loquacity, idle talk" (mid-13c.), also "falsehood, deceit," originally "a gibe, a taunt" (c. 1200), mid-13c., probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse gabb "mocking, mockery," and in part from Old French gap, gab "joke, jest; bragging talk," which also is probably from Scandinavian (compare gab (v.)). Probably also there is influence from Scottish and northern English gab "the mouth" (see gob (n.2)); OED reports the word "Not in dignified use." Gift of (the) gab "talent for speaking" is from 1680s.ETD gab (n.).2

    gabardine (n.)

    1590s, "dress, covering," variant of gaberdine. Meaning "closely woven cloth" is from 1904.ETD gabardine (n.).2

    gabby (adj.)

    "garrulous, talkative," 1719, originally Scottish, from gab (n.) + -y (2). Related: Gabbiness.ETD gabby (adj.).2

    gabble (v.)

    "to talk noisily, rapidly, and incoherently," 1570s, frequentative of gab (v.), or else imitative. Related: Gabbled; gabbling.ETD gabble (v.).2

    gabble (n.)

    "senseless, loud, rapid talk; animal noise," c. 1600, from gabble (v.).ETD gabble (n.).2

    gabbro (n.)

    type of igneous rock, 1823, introduced in geology 1809 by German geologist Christian Leopold von Buch (1774-1853), from Italian (Tuscan) gabbro, a word among the marble-workers, of obscure origin; perhaps from Latin glaber "bare, smooth, bald" (see glad). Related: Gabbroic.ETD gabbro (n.).2


    masc. proper name, usually short for Gabriel.ETD Gabe.2

    gaberdine (n.)

    "long, loose outer garment," 1510s, from Spanish gabardina, which Watkins says is from French galverdine, from a Germanic source such as Middle High German wallevart "pilgrimage" (German Wallfahrt) in the sense of "pilgrim's cloak." The compound would represent Proto-Germanic *wal- (source also of Old High German wallon "to roam, wander, go on a pilgrimage;" see gallant (adj.)) and Proto-Germanic *faran "to go" (from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over"). The Spanish form perhaps was influenced by Spanish gabán "overcoat" and tabardina "coarse coat." Century Dictionary, however, says the Spanish word is an extended form of gabán and the Spanish word was borrowed and underwent alterations in Old French.ETD gaberdine (n.).2

    gabfest (n.)

    "session of conversation," 1895, American English colloquial, from gab + -fest.ETD gabfest (n.).2

    gable (n.)

    "end of a ridged roof cut off in a vertical plane, together with the wall from the level of the eaves to the apex," mid-14c., "a gable of a building; a facade," from Old French gable "facade, front, gable," from Old Norse gafl "gable, gable-end" (in north of England, the word probably is directly from Norse), according to Watkins, probably from Proto-Germanic *gablaz "top of a pitched roof" (source also of Middle Dutch ghevel, Dutch gevel, Old High German gibil, German Giebel, Gothic gibla "gable"). This is traced to a PIE *ghebh-el- "head," which seems to have yielded words meaning both "fork" (such as Old English gafol, geafel, Old Saxon gafala, Dutch gaffel, Old High German gabala "pitchfork," German Gabel "fork;" Old Irish gabul "forked twig") and "head" (such as Old High German gibilla, Old Saxon gibillia "skull"). See cephalo-.ETD gable (n.).2

    Related: Gabled; gables; gable-end.ETD gable (n.).3


    masc. proper name, also name of an Old Testament angel, from Hebrew Gabhri el, literally "man of God," from gebher "man" + El "God." First element is from base of verb gabhar "was strong" (compare Arabic jabr "strong, young man;" jabbar "tyrant"). Gabriel's hounds (17c.) was a folk explanation for the cacophony of wild geese flying over, hidden by clouds or night.ETD Gabriel.2

    gad (v.)

    mid-15c., gadden, "go quickly, hurry," of uncertain origin, perhaps from gad (n.) "sharp stick for driving oxen" on the notion of moving as animals do when being driven by a gad. There also was a Middle English gadeling (Old English gædeling) "kinsman, companion in arms; fellow, man," but which had a deteriorated sense of "person of low birth, rogue, vagabond" by c. 1300 (it also had a meaning "wandering," but this is attested only from 16c.). Related: Gadding.ETD gad (v.).2

    gad (n.)

    c. 1300, "a goad, sharp pointed stick to drive oxen, etc.;" c. 1400, "sharp-pointed metal spike," from Old Norse gaddr "spike, nail," from Proto-Germanic *gadaz "pointed stick" (see yard (n.2)). Attested earlier as "metal bar or rod, ingot" (mid-13c.) hence also in Middle English a unit of length in land-measure, varying from 10 to 16 feet. Not related to goad (n.), but perhaps influenced by it in sense.ETD gad (n.).2

    gadabout (n.)

    "one who gads or walks idly about, especially from motives of curiosity or gossip" [Century Dictionary], 1830; see gad (v.) + about (adv.). As an adjective from 1817. Verbal phrase gadder about is attested from 1560s.ETD gadabout (n.).2

    Gadarene swine (n.)

    an image from Matthew viii.28. From Gadara, town of ancient times near Galilee.ETD Gadarene swine (n.).2

    gadfly (n.)

    also gad-fly, 1620s, "fly which bites cattle," probably from gad (n.) "goad, metal rod," here in the sense of "stinger;" but the sense is entangled with gad (v.) "rove about" (on the notion, perhaps, of the insect's power of flight or of the restlessness of animals plagued by them), and another early meaning of gadfly was "someone who likes to go about, often stopping here and there" (1610s). Sense of "one who irritates another" is from 1640s (equivalent of Latin oestrus; see estrus). "In strictness, only the females are gadflies, the males being smaller and quite inoffensive, living on juices of plants" [Century Dictionary]. Earlier bot-fly, from bot "skin parasite" (late 15c.).ETD gadfly (n.).2

    gadget (n.)

    1886, gadjet (but said by OED corespondents to date from 1850s), sailors' slang word for any small mechanical thing or part of a ship for which they lacked, or forgot, a name; perhaps from French gâchette "catch-piece of a mechanism" (15c.), diminutive of gâche "staple of a lock." OED [2nd. ed. print, 1989] says derivation from gauge is "improbable."ETD gadget (n.).2

    Gadhelic (adj.)

    1796, originally "Irish," now "pertaining to the Gaels" in the broadest sense; a "discriminated form" [Century Dictionary] of Gaelic.ETD Gadhelic (adj.).2

    gadolinium (n.)

    metallic element, with element ending -ium + gadolinia, an earth named 1886 by J.C. Marginac in honor of Johan Gadolin (1760-1852), Finnish mineralogist and chemist, who in 1794 first began investigation of the earth (subsequently called gadolinite, 1802) which eventually yielded this element and several others.ETD gadolinium (n.).2

    gadzooks (interj.)

    1690s, a condensed form of some exclamation, usually said to be God's hooks (nails of Christ's Cross) or even God's hocks. Compare godsookers (1670s). The use of Gad for God (as in egad) is first attested 1590s. Among other similar "phraseological combinations" noted by OED (all from 17c.) were gadsbobs, gadslid, gadsniggers, gadsbudlikins, and gadsnouns; in all of which the second elements are sometimes said to be mere fanciful syllables.ETD gadzooks (interj.).2


    see Gaia.ETD Gaea.2

    Gael (n.)

    1810, from Scottish Gaelic Gaidheal "member of the Gaelic race" (Irish, Scottish, Manx), corresponding to Old Irish Goidhel (compare Latin Gallus under Gallic, also see Galatians). The native name in both Ireland and Scotland; owing to the influence of Scottish writers Gael was used in English at first exclusively of Highland Scots.ETD Gael (n.).2

    Gaelic (adj.)

    1774, "of or pertaining to the Gaels" (meaning originally in English the Scottish Highlanders); 1775 as a noun, "language of the Celts of the Scottish Highlands;" earlier Gathelik (1590s), from Gael (Scottish Gaidheal; see Gael) + -ic.ETD Gaelic (adj.).2

    gaffe (n.)

    "blunder," 1909, perhaps from French gaffe "clumsy remark," originally "boat hook" (15c.), from Old Provençal gafar "to seize," probably from a Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *gaf-, which is perhaps from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." Sense connection between the hook and the blunder is obscure; the gaff was used to land big fish. Or the Modern English word might derive from British slang verb gaff "to cheat, trick" (1893); or gaff "criticism" (1896), from Scottish dialect sense of "loud, rude talk" (see gaff (n.2)).ETD gaffe (n.).2

    gaff (n.1)

    "iron hook," c. 1300, gaffe, from Old French gaffe "boat hook" (see gaffe). Specifically of the hook on a fishing spear from 1650s. As a type of spar from 1769. Related: gaff-hook.ETD gaff (n.1).2

    gaff (n.2)

    "talk," 1812, in phrase blow the gaff "spill a secret," of uncertain origin. OED points out Old English gafspræc "blasphemous or ribald speech," and Scottish gaff "loud, rude talk" (by 1825). Compare gaffe.ETD gaff (n.2).2

    gaff (n.3)

    "cheap music hall or theater; place of amusement for the lowest classes," 1812, British slang, earlier "a fair" (1753), of unknown origin.ETD gaff (n.3).2

    gaffer (n.)

    1580s, "elderly rustic," apparently (based on continental analogies) a contraction of godfather (compare gammer). Originally a term of respect, also applied familiarly; from "old man" it was extended by 1841 to foremen and supervisors, which sense carried over in early 20c. to "electrician in charge of lighting on a film set."ETD gaffer (n.).2

    gag (v.)

    mid-15c., transitive, "to choke, strangle" (someone), possibly imitative and perhaps influenced by Old Norse gag-hals "with head thrown back." The sense of "stop a person's mouth by thrusting something into it" is first attested c. 1500. Intransitive sense of "to retch" is from 1707. Transitive meaning "cause to heave with nausea" is from 1945. Related: Gagged; gagging.ETD gag (v.).2

    gag (n.2)

    "a joke," 1863, especially a practical joke, probably related to theatrical sense of "matter interpolated in a written piece by the actor" (1847); or from the sense "made-up story" (1805); or from slang verbal sense of "to deceive, take in with talk" (1777), all of which perhaps are from gag (v.) on the notion of "to stuff, fill." Gagster "comedian" is by 1932.ETD gag (n.2).2

    gag (n.1)

    "something thrust into the mouth or throat to prevent speaking," 1550s, from gag (v.); figurative use, "violent or authoritative repression of speech," is from 1620s. Gag-law in reference to curbs on freedom of the press is from 1798, American English. The gag-rule that blocked anti-slavery petitions in the U.S. House of Representatives was in force from 1836 to 1844.ETD gag (n.1).2

    gaga (adj.)

    "crazy, silly," 1920, probably from French gaga "senile, foolish," probably imitative of meaningless babbling.ETD gaga (adj.).2

    gage (v.)

    c. 1400, "to deposit as security," from Old French gager, gagier "to guarantee, promise, pledge, swear; bet, wager; pay," from gage "security, pledge" (see gage (n.)). Related: Gaged; gaging. For the measuring sense, see gauge (v.).ETD gage (v.).2

    gage (n.)

    "a pledge, a pawn, something valuable deposited to insure performance," especially "something thrown down as a token of challenge," c. 1300, from Old French gage "pledge (of battle), security, guarantee; pay, reward" (11c.), from Frankish *wadja-, from Proto-Germanic *wadi- (see wed). Italian gaggio, Spanish and Portuguese gage are French loan-words.ETD gage (n.).2

    gaggle (n.)

    late 15c., gagyll, with reference to both geese and women (on the notion of "chattering company"). Barnhart says possibly from Old Norse gagl "small goose, gosling, wild goose;" OED calls it "one of the many artificial terms invented in the 15th c. as distinctive collectives referring to particular animals or classes of persons." Possibly of imitative origin (compare Dutch gagelen "to chatter;" Middle English gaggle "to cackle," used of geese, attested from late 14c.). The loosened general sense of "group of people" is from 1946.ETD gaggle (n.).2

    gay (adj.)

    late 14c., "full of joy, merry; light-hearted, carefree;" also "wanton, lewd, lascivious" (late 12c. as a surname, Philippus de Gay), from Old French gai "joyful, happy; pleasant, agreeably charming; forward, pert; light-colored" (12c.; compare Old Spanish gayo, Portuguese gaio, Italian gajo, probably French loan-words). The ultimate origin is disputed; perhaps from Frankish *gahi (related to Old High German wahi "pretty"), though not all etymologists accept this.ETD gay (adj.).2

    The meaning "stately and beautiful; splendid and showily dressed" is from early 14c. Of things, "sumptuous, showy, rich, ornate," mid-14c. of colors, etc., "shining, glittering, gleaming, bright, vivid," late 14c.; of persons, "dressed up, decked out in finery," also late 14c. In the English of Yorkshire and Scotland formerly it could mean "moderately, rather, considerable" (1796; compare the sense development in pretty (adj.)).ETD gay (adj.).3

    The word gay by the 1890s had an overall tinge of promiscuity — a gay house was a brothel. The suggestion of immorality in the word can be traced back at least to the 1630s, if not to Chaucer:ETD gay (adj.).4

    The slang meaning "homosexual" (adj.) begins to appear in psychological writing in the late 1940s, evidently picked up from gay slang and not always easily distinguished from the older sense:ETD gay (adj.).5

    The association with (male) homosexuality likely got a boost from the term gay cat, used as far back as 1893 in American English for "young hobo," one who is new on the road, also one who sometimes does jobs.ETD gay (adj.).6

    Quoting a tramp named Frenchy, who might not have known the origin. Gay cats were severely and cruelly abused by "real" tramps and bums, who considered them "an inferior order of beings who begs of and otherwise preys upon the bum — as it were a jackal following up the king of beasts" [Prof. John J. McCook, "Tramps," in "The Public Treatment of Pauperism," 1893], but some accounts report certain older tramps would dominate a gay cat and employ him as a sort of slave. In "Sociology and Social Research" (1932-33) a paragraph on the "gay cat" phenomenon notes, "Homosexual practices are more common than rare in this group," and gey cat "homosexual boy" is attested in Noel Erskine's 1933 dictionary of "Underworld & Prison Slang" (gey is a Scottish variant of gay).ETD gay (adj.).7

    The "Dictionary of American Slang" reports that gay (adj.) was used by homosexuals, among themselves, in this sense at least since 1920. Rawson ["Wicked Words"] notes a male prostitute using gay in reference to male homosexuals (but also to female prostitutes) in London's notorious Cleveland Street Scandal of 1889. Ayto ["20th Century Words"] calls attention to the ambiguous use of the word in the 1868 song "The Gay Young Clerk in the Dry Goods Store," by U.S. female impersonator Will S. Hays, but the word evidently was not popularly felt in this sense by wider society until the 1950s at the earliest.ETD gay (adj.).8

    As a teen slang word meaning "bad, inferior, undesirable," without reference to sexuality, from 2000.ETD gay (adj.).9

    gay (n.)

    "a (usually male) homosexual," by 1971, from gay (adj.). In Middle English it meant "excellent person, noble lady, gallant knight," also "something gay or bright; an ornament or badge" (c. 1400).ETD gay (n.).2

    Gaia (n.)

    Earth as a goddess, from Greek Gaia, spouse of Uranus, mother of the Titans, personification of gaia "earth" (as opposed to heaven), "land" (as opposed to sea), "a land, country, soil;" it is a collateral form of (Dorian ga) "earth," which is of unknown origin and perhaps from a pre-Indo-European language of Greece. The Roman equivalent goddess of the earth was Tellus (see tellurian), sometimes used in English poetically or rhetorically for "Earth personified" or "the Earth as a planet."ETD Gaia (n.).2

    gaiety (n.)

    "cheerfulness, mirth," 1630s, from French gaieté (Old French gaiete, 12c.), from gai "gay" (see gay). In the 1890s, in Britain, especially with reference to a London theater of that name, and the kind of musical shows and dancing girls it presented.ETD gaiety (n.).2


    fem. proper name, in some cases short for Abigail, or from the Hebrew root in that name meaning "rejoicing." Attained its greatest popularity in U.S. as a given name for girls born c. 1945-1955.ETD Gail.2

    gaily (adj.)

    also gayly, "with mirth and frolic," late 14c., from Middle English gai (see gay) + -ly (2). "The spelling gaily is the more common, and is supported by the only existing analogy, that of daily" [OED].ETD gaily (adj.).2

    gainful (adj.)

    "producing profit or advantage," 1550s, from gain (n.) + -ful. Phrase gainfully employed attested from 1796. Related: Gainfully (1540s).ETD gainful (adj.).2

    gain (v.)

    1520s, "obtain as profit," from French gagner, from Old French gaaignier "to earn, gain; trade; capture, win," also "work in the fields, cultivate land," from Frankish *waidanjan "hunt, forage," also "graze, pasture," from Proto-Germanic *waithanjan "to hunt, plunder," from *waithjo- "pursuit, hunting" (source also of Old English waþ "hunting," German Weide "pasture, pasturage," Old Norse veiðr "hunting, fishing, catch of fish").ETD gain (v.).2

    This is from PIE root *weie- "to go after, strive after, pursue vigorously, desire," with noun derivatives indicating "force, power" (related to *wi-ro- "man;" see virile). Cognates include Sanskrit padavi- "track, path, trail," veti- "follows, strives, leads, drives;" Avestan vateiti "follows, hunts;" Greek hiemai "move oneself forward, strive, desire;" Lithuanian vyti "to chase, pursue;" Old Norse veiðr "chase, hunting, fishing;" Old English OE wað "a chase, hunt."ETD gain (v.).3

    Meaning "obtain by effort or striving" is from 1540s; intransitive sense of "profit, make gain" is from 1570s. Meaning "arrive at" is from c. 1600. Of timepieces by 1861. Related: Gained; gaining. To gain on "advance nearer" is from 1719. To gain ground (1620s) was originally military.ETD gain (v.).4

    gain (n.)

    c. 1200, gein, "advantage, benefit; help," c. 1300, "reward, profit, that which has been acquired" (possessions, resources, wealth), from Old French gain, gaaigne "gain, profit, advantage; work, business; booty; arable land" (12c.), from Germanic, and from Old Norse (see gain (v.)). Meaning "any incremental increase" (in weight, etc.) is by 1851. Related: Gains. The French word enfolded the notions of "profit from agriculture" and "booty, prey."ETD gain (n.).2

    gainer (n.)

    "one who gains or profits," 1530s, agent noun from gain (v.). As "one who (deliberately) gains weight" by 2000s.ETD gainer (n.).2

    gainly (adj.)

    "well-formed and agile," 1886, probably a back-formation from ungainly. Earlier "ready, prompt" (1620s), from gain (n.).ETD gainly (adj.).2

    gainsay (v.)

    "contradict, deny, dispute," c. 1300, literally "say against," from gain- (Old English gegn- "against;" see again) + say (v.). In Middle English it translates Latin contradicere. "Solitary survival of a once common prefix" [Weekley]. It also figured in such now-obsolete compounds as gain-taking "taking back again," gainclap "a counterstroke," gainbuy "redeem," Gaincoming "Second Advent," and gainstand "to oppose." Related: Gainsaid; gainsaying.ETD gainsay (v.).2

    gainst (adv.)

    also 'gainst, shortened form of against.ETD gainst (adv.).2

    gait (n.)

    c. 1300, gate "a going or walking, departure, journey," earlier "way, road, path" (c. 1200), from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse gata "way, road, path"), from Proto-Germanic *gatwon "a going" (source also of Old High German gazza "street," German Gasse "a way, road," Gothic gatwo), perhaps from PIE *ghe- "to release, let go." Meaning "manner of walking, carriage of the body while walking" is from mid-15c. Modern spelling developed before 1750, originally in Scottish. Related: Gaited.ETD gait (n.).2

    gaiter (n.)

    "leather cover for the ankle," 1775, from French guêtre "belonging to peasant attire," of uncertain origin; probably ultimately from Frankish *wrist "instep," or a similar Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *wirstiz (source also of German Rist "instep," English wrist), from *wreik- "to turn," from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend." Related: Gaiters; gaitered (1760).ETD gaiter (n.).2

    gal (n.)

    slang pronunciation of girl, 1795, originally noted as a vulgarism (in Benjamin Dearborn's "Columbian Grammar"). Compare gell, 19c. literary form of the Northern England dialectal variant of girl, also g'hal, the girlfriend of a b'hoy (1849). Gal Friday is 1940, in reference to "Robinson Crusoe."ETD gal (n.).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to call, shout."ETD *gal-.2

    It forms all or part of: call; clatter; Gallic; gallinaceous; gallium; glasnost; Glagolitic.ETD *gal-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit garhati "bewail, criticize;" Latin gallus "cock;" Old English ceallian "to shout, utter in a loud voice," Old Norse kalla "to cry loudly," Dutch kallen "to talk, chatter;" German Klage "complaint, grievance, lament, accusation;" Old English clacu "affront;" Old Church Slavonic glasu "voice," glagolu "word;" Welsh galw "call."ETD *gal-.4

    gala (n.)

    1620s, "festive dress or attire" (obsolete), from French en gala, perhaps from Old French gale "merriment," from galer "rejoice, make merry" (see gallant). Klein suggests the French word is from Italian gala (as in phrase vestito di gala "robe of state"), perhaps from Arabic khil'a "fine garment given as a presentation." Sense of "festive occasion" (characterized by display of finery) first recorded 1777. Quasi-adjectival use in gala day "day of festivities," etc.ETD gala (n.).2

    galactic (adj.)

    1839, "of the Milky Way, of the bright band of stars around the night sky," from Late Latin galacticus, from galaxias (see galaxy). In modern scientific sense "pertaining to (our) galaxy," from 1849. From 1844 as "of or pertaining to milk."ETD galactic (adj.).2


    before vowels galact-, word-forming element meaning "milk, milky," from Greek gala (stem galakt-; see galaxy).ETD galacto-.2


    also *g(a)lakt-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "milk."ETD *g(a)lag-.2

    It forms all or part of: ablactation; cafe au lait; galactic; galaxy; lactate (v.); lactate (n.); lactation; lacteal; lactescence; lactic; lactivorous; lacto-; lactose; latte; lettuce.ETD *g(a)lag-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin lac (genitive lactis) "milk;" Greek gala (genitive galaktos), "milk;" Armenian dialectal kaxc' "milk." The initial "g" probably was lost in Latin by dissimilation. This and the separate root *melg-, account for words for "milk" in most of the Indo-European languages. The absence of a common word for it is considered a mystery.ETD *g(a)lag-.4


    islands were named for the tortoises (Spanish galapagos) who live there; discovered by Europeans in 1535. Related: Galapagian.ETD Galapagos.2

    Galatians (n.)

    Biblical epistle, from Galatia, name of an ancient inland region in Asia Minor, from Greek Galatia, based on Gaul, in reference to the Gaulish people who conquered the region and settled there 3c. B.C.E. In Latin Gallograeci, hence Middle English Gallocrecs "the Gallatians."ETD Galatians (n.).2

    galavant (v.)

    variant of gallivant. Related: Galavanted; galavanting.ETD galavant (v.).2

    galaxy (n.)

    late 14c., from French galaxie or directly from Late Latin galaxias "the Milky Way" as a feature in the night sky (in classical Latin via lactea or circulus lacteus), from Greek galaxias (adj.), in galaxias kyklos, literally "milky circle," from gala (genitive galaktos) "milk" (from PIE root *g(a)lag- "milk").ETD galaxy (n.).2

    The technical astronomical sense in reference to the discrete stellar aggregate including the sun and all visible stars emerged by 1848. Figurative sense of "brilliant assembly of persons" is from 1580s. Milky Way is a translation of Latin via lactea.ETD galaxy (n.).3

    Originally ours was the only one known. Astronomers began to speculate by mid-19c. that some of the spiral nebulae they could see in telescopes were actually immense and immensely distant structures the size and shape of the Milky Way. But the matter was not settled in the affirmative until the 1920s.ETD galaxy (n.).4


    surname, from Old Gaelic Gall-Bhreathnach "stranger-Briton," a name given to Britons settled among Gaels. Compare Galloway.ETD Galbraith.2

    gale (n.)

    "strong wind," especially at sea, 1540s, from gaile "wind," origin uncertain. Perhaps from Old Norse gol "breeze," or Old Danish gal "bad, furious" (often used of weather), which are related to Old Norse galinn "furious, mad, frantic; enchanted, bewitched," from gala "to sing, chant," the wind so called from its raging or on the notion of being raised by spells (but OED finds reason to doubt this). Or perhaps it is named for the sound, from Old English galan "to sing," or giellan "to yell." The Old Norse and Old English words all are from the source of yell (v.). In nautical use, between a stiff breeze and a storm; in technical meteorological use, a wind between 32 and 63 miles per hour.ETD gale (n.).2


    celebrated Greek physician of 2c.; his work still was a foundation of medicine in the Middle Ages and his name is used figuratively for doctors.ETD Galen.2

    galena (n.)

    lead ore, lead sulphide, c. 1600, from Latin galena "mix of silver and lead; dross from smelting lead," of unknown origin. Related: Galenic.ETD galena (n.).2


    region in Central Europe, perhaps ultimately from Lithuanian galas "end, peak," in reference to the Carpathian Mountains which rise there, or from the root of Gaul. The region in northwestern Spain of the same name is from the ancient Roman province of Gallaecia, which is perhaps from the Celtic root cala "watercourse," or else it, too, might be from the root of Gaul. Related: Galician (1749 of Spain, 1835 of Eastern Europe).ETD Galicia.2


    "northernmost province of Palestine," late 12c., from Latin Galilaea, Greek Galilaia, with Greek place-name element + Hebrew Haggalil, literally "The District," a compressed form of Gelil haggoyim "the District of Nations" (see Isaiah viii.23).ETD Galilee.2

    The adjective Galilean, also Galilaean, is used both of Jesus, who was raised and began preaching there, and his followers (1610s), and of the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1727). His family name is from one of its ancestors, Galileo de'Bonajuti, a prominent 15th century physician and civic leader in Florence, and represents Latin Galilaeus "Galilean."ETD Galilee.3

    Galilean also was the word applied to early Christians among the pagans and Jews. Old and Middle English had Galileish.ETD Galilee.4

    gall (n.1)

    "bile, liver secretion," Old English galla (Anglian), gealla (West Saxon) "gall, bile," from Proto-Germanic *gallon "bile" (source also of Old Norse gall "gall, bile; sour drink," Old Saxon galle, Old High German galla, German Galle), from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives denoting "green, yellow," and thus "bile, gall." Informal sense of "impudence, boldness" first recorded American English 1882; but meaning "embittered spirit, rancor" is from c. 1200, from the old medicine theory of humors.ETD gall (n.1).2

    gall (v.)

    "to make sore by chafing," mid-15c., from gall (n.2). Earlier "to have sores, be sore" (early 14c.). Figurative sense of "harass, vex, irritate, chafe the spirit of," is from 1570s. A past-participle adjective gealled is found in Old English, but OED says this is from the noun. Related: Galled; galling.ETD gall (v.).2

    gall (n.3)

    "excrescence on a plant caused by the deposit of insect eggs," especially on an oak leaf, late 14c., from Latin galla "oak-gall," which is of uncertain origin. They were harvested for use in medicines, inks, dyes.ETD gall (n.3).2

    gall (n.2)

    "sore on skin caused by rubbing or chafing," Old English gealla "painful swelling, sore spot on a horse," probably from Latin galla "gall, lump on plant," originally "oak-gall" (see gall (n.3)). Perhaps from or influenced by gall (n.1) on notion of "poison-sore." Meaning "bare spot in a field" (1570s) is probably the same word. German galle, Dutch gal also are said to be from Latin.ETD gall (n.2).2

    galling (adj.)

    "irritating, offensive, extremely annoying," 1580s, figurative use of present participle of gall (v.).ETD galling (adj.).2


    surname, from Irish Gallchobhar "foreign-help." Compare Galloway.ETD Gallagher.2

    gallant (adj.)

    mid-15c., "showy, finely dressed; gay, merry," from Old French galant "courteous," earlier "amusing, entertaining; lively, bold" (14c.), present participle of galer "rejoice, make merry," which is of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a Latinized verb formed from Frankish *wala- "good, well," from Proto-Germanic *wal- (source also of Old High German wallon "to wander, go on a pilgrimage"), from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (see will (v.)), "but the transition of sense offers difficulties that are not fully cleared up" [OED]. Sense of "politely attentive to women" was adopted early 17c. from French. Attempts to distinguish this sense by accent are an 18c. artifice.ETD gallant (adj.).2

    gallant (n.)

    mid-15c., "man of fashion and pleasure," earlier "dissolute man, rake" (early 15c.); from gallant (adj.). As "one who is particularly attentive to women" probably by late 15c.ETD gallant (n.).2

    gallantly (adv.)

    1550s, "showily," from gallant (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "with exaggerated courtesy toward women" is from 1610s.ETD gallantly (adv.).2

    gallantry (n.)

    1590s, "fine appearance," from French galanterie (16c.), from Old French galant "courteous; amusing" (see gallant (adj.)). Meaning "gallant behavior" is from 1630s; meaning "polite attention to ladies" is from 1670s. Middle English had gallantness "merriment, gaiety, high living" (late 15c.).ETD gallantry (n.).2

    gall-bladder (n.)

    1670s, from gall (n.1) + bladder.ETD gall-bladder (n.).2

    galley (n.)

    13c., "seagoing vessel having both sails and oars," from Old French galie, galee "boat, warship, galley," from Medieval Latin galea or Catalan galea, from Late Greek galea, of unknown origin. The word has made its way into most Western European languages. Originally "low, flat-built seagoing vessel of one deck," once a common type in the Mediterranean. Meaning "cooking range or cooking room on a ship" dates from 1750.ETD galley (n.).2

    The printing sense of galley, "oblong tray that holds the type once set," is from 1650s, from French galée in the same sense, in reference to the shape of the tray. As a short form of galley-proof it is attested from 1890.ETD galley (n.).3

    galleon (n.)

    kind of large ship, 1520s, from French galion "armed ship of burden," and directly from Spanish galeón "galleon, armed merchant ship," augmentative of galea, from Byzantine Greek galea "galley" (see galley) + augmentative suffix -on. Developed 15c.-16c., it was shorter, broader, and with a higher stern superstructure than the galley. In English use, especially of Spanish royal treasure-ships or the government warships that escorted private merchant ships in the South American trade.ETD galleon (n.).2

    Italian agumented form of galea, galeaza, led to a different 16c. ship-name in English, galliass (1540s).ETD galleon (n.).3

    gallery (n.)

    mid-15c., "covered walk or passageway, narrow and partly open passageway along a wall," from Old French galerie "a long portico" (14c.), from Medieval Latin galeria, of unknown origin. Perhaps an alteration of galilea "church porch," which is probably from Latin Galilaea "Galilee," the northernmost region of Palestine (see Galilee); church porches sometimes were so called, perhaps from being at the far end of the church:ETD gallery (n.).2

    Sense of "building to house art" first recorded 1590s. In reference to theaters, of the section with the highest, cheapest seats; hence "people who occupy a (theater) gallery" (contrasted with "gentlemen of the pit") first by Lovelace, 1640s, hence to play to the gallery (1867).ETD gallery (n.).3

    galleria (n.)

    Italian form of gallery.ETD galleria (n.).2

    galley-slave (n.)

    1560s, from galley (n.) in the "ship" sense + slave (n.). The ships were often rowed by slaves or convicts.ETD galley-slave (n.).2

    galleywest (adv.)

    indicating where something or someone is knocked, "into an extremely distressed or disabled condition," American English slang, by 1835; considered by OED to be a corruption of western England dialectal collyweston, name of a village in Northamptonshire ("Colin's West Farmstead") that somehow came to signify "askew, not right." But Farmer calls it an Americanism and goes in for it as an "indefinite superlative," and DAS also does not consider the obscure English term to be the source. Early nautical references suggest it might simply be what it looks like: a sailor's generic way of indicating something has been thrown pretty far by impact, based on galley in the "ship's cooking room" sense.ETD galleywest (adv.).2

    Gallicism (n.)

    "French word or idiom," 1650s, from Gallic + -ism.ETD Gallicism (n.).2

    Gallic (adj.)

    1670s, "of or pertaining to the French," from Latin Gallicus "pertaining to Gaul or the Gauls," from Latin Gallia "Gaul" and Gallus "a Gaul" from a native Celtic name (see Gaelic), though some connect the word with prehistoric West Germanic *walkhoz "foreigners" (see Welsh). Originally used in English rhetorically or mockingly for "French." The cock as a symbol of France is based on the pun of Gallus "a Gaul" and Latin gallus "cock" (see gallinaceous). Earlier was Gallican (1590s).ETD Gallic (adj.).2

    As "of or pertaining to the ancient Gauls" from 1796.ETD Gallic (adj.).3

    gallimaufry (n.)

    "a medley, hash, hodge-podge," 1550s, from French galimafrée "hash, ragout, dish made of odds and ends," from Old French galimafree, calimafree "sauce made of mustard, ginger, and vinegar; a stew of carp" (14c.), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps from Old French galer "to make merry, live well" (see gallant) + Old North French mafrer "to eat much," from Middle Dutch maffelen [Klein]. Weekley sees in the second element the proper name Maufré. Hence, figuratively, "any inconsistent or absurd medley."ETD gallimaufry (n.).2

    gallinaceous (adj.)

    "of or resembling domestic fowl," 1783, from Latin gallinaceus "of hens, of fowls, pertaining to poultry," from gallina "hen," a fem. formation from gallus "cock," probably from PIE root *gal- "to call, shout," as "the calling bird." But it also has an ancient association with Gaul (see Gallic), and some speculate that this is the source of the word, "on the assumption that the Romans became acquainted with the cock from Gaul, where it was brought by the Phoenicians" [Buck].ETD gallinaceous (adj.).2

    gallinicide (n.)

    "the killing of chickens," 1883, from Latin gallina "hen" (see gallinaceous) + -cide "a killing."ETD gallinicide (n.).2

    gallinivorous (adj.)

    "chicken-eating," 1862, from Latin gallina "hen" (see gallinaceous) + -vorous "eating, devouring."ETD gallinivorous (adj.).2

    galliot (n.)

    "small galley," mid-14c., from Old French galiote, galiot "small ship," diminutive of galie (see galley).ETD galliot (n.).2

    gallipot (n.)

    "small glazed pot," mid-15c., of uncertain origin; perhaps from French, perhaps literally "galley pot," meaning one imported from the Mediterranean on galleys.ETD gallipot (n.).2

    gallium (n.)

    metalic element that melts in the hand, discovered by spectral lines in 1875 by French chemist Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1838-1912), who named it apparently in honor of his homeland (see Gallic), but it has been suggested that he also punned on his own name (compare Latin gallus "cock," for which see gallinaceous). With metallic element ending -ium.ETD gallium (n.).2

    gallivant (v.)

    "gad about, spend time in frivolous pleasure-seeking, especially with the opposite sex," 1809, of uncertain origin, perhaps a playful elaboration of gallant in an obsolete verbal sense of "play the gallant, flirt, gad about." Related: Gallivanted; gallivanting.ETD gallivant (v.).2

    Gallomania (n.)

    "excessive or undue enthusiasm for France and all things French," 1797, from combining form of Gaul + mania. Jefferson used adjective Gallomane (1787). Compare Anglomania, which might have served as the model for this word.ETD Gallomania (n.).2

    gallon (n.)

    English measure of capacity (containing four quarts), usually for liquids, late 13c., from Old North French galon, corresponding to Old French jalon, name of a liquid measure roughly equivalent to a modern gallon," which is related to (perhaps augmentative of) jale "bowl," from Medieval Latin or Vulgar Latin diminutive form galleta "bucket, pail," also "a measure of wine," a word of unknown origin, perhaps from Gaulish galla "vessel."ETD gallon (n.).2

    gallop (n.)

    "a leaping gait," the most rapid movement of a horse, 1520s, from gallop (v.).ETD gallop (n.).2

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