gag (n.1) Look up gag at
"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.
gaga (adj.) Look up gaga at
"crazy, silly," 1920, probably from French gaga "senile, foolish," probably imitative of meaningless babbling.
gage (n.) Look up gage at
"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.
gage (v.) Look up gage at
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.).
gaggle (n.) Look up gaggle at
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.
Gaia (n.) Look up Gaia at
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 ge (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."
gaiety (n.) Look up gaiety at
"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.
Gail Look up Gail at
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.
gaily (adj.) Look up gaily at
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].
gain (n.) Look up gain at
late 15c., "that which has been acquired" (possessions, resources, wealth), from Middle French gain, from Old French gaaigne "gain, profit, advantage; work, business; booty; arable land" (12c.), from gaaignier "to gain, earn; capture, win" (see gain (v.)). Meaning "any incremental increase" (in weight, etc.) is by 1851. Related: Gains.

The original French word enfolded the notions of "profit from agriculture" and "booty, prey." Neither the verb nor the noun gain is in Middle English, which however had gainage "profit derived from agriculture" (late 14c., from Old French gaaignage); gaineier "farmer" (late 13c. as a surname); gainerie "a farm" (mid-15c.).
gain (v.) Look up gain at
1520s, "obtain as profit," from Middle 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" (cognates: Old English waþ "hunting," German Weide "pasture, pasturage," Old Norse veiðr "hunting, fishing, catch of fish"), from PIE *weie- "to strive after, pursue with vigor, desire" (see venison). 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.
gainer (n.) Look up gainer at
"one who gains or profits," 1530s, agent noun from gain (v.). As "one who (deliberately) gains weight" by 2000s.
gainful (adj.) Look up gainful at
"producing profit or advantage," 1550s, from gain (n.) + -ful. Phrase gainfully employed attested from 1796. Related: Gainfully (1540s).
gainly (adj.) Look up gainly at
"well-formed and agile," 1886, probably a back-formation from ungainly. Earlier "ready, prompt" (1620s), from gain (n.).
gainsay (v.) Look up gainsay at
"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.
gainst (adv.) Look up gainst at
also 'gainst, shortened form of against.
gait (n.) Look up gait at
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" (cognates: 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.
gaiter (n.) Look up gaiter at
"leather cover for the ankle," 1775, from French guêtre "belonging to peasant attire," of unknown origin; perhaps from Middle French *guestre, from Frankish *wrist "instep," from Proto-Germanic *wirstiz (source also of German Rist "instep;" see wrist (n.)). Related: Gaiters; gaitered (1760).
gal (n.) Look up gal at
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."
gala (n.) Look up gala at
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.
galactic (adj.) Look up galactic at
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."
galacto- Look up galacto- at
before vowels galact-, word-forming element meaning "milk, milky," from Greek gala (stem galakt-; see galaxy).
Galapagos Look up Galapagos at
islands were named for the tortoises (Spanish galapagos) who live there; discovered by Europeans in 1535. Related: Galapagian.
Galatians (n.) Look up Galatians at
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."
galavant (v.) Look up galavant at
variant of gallivant. Related: Galavanted; galavanting.
galaxy (n.) Look up galaxy at
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" (see lactation). 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.
See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë Which men clepeth the Milky Wey, For hit is whyt. [Chaucer, "House of Fame"]
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.
Galbraith Look up Galbraith at
surname, from Old Gaelic Gall-Bhreathnach "stranger-Briton," a name given to Britons settled among Gaels. Compare Galloway.
gale (n.) Look up gale at
"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.
Galen Look up Galen at
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.
galena (n.) Look up galena at
lead ore, lead sulphide, c. 1600, from Latin galena "mix of silver and lead; dross from smelting lead," of unknown origin. Related: Galenic.
Galicia Look up Galicia at
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).
Galilee Look up Galilee at
"northernmost province of Palestine," late 12c., from Latin Galilaea, Greek Galilaia, with place-name element + Hebrew Haggalil, literally "The District," a compressed form of Gelil haggoyim "the District of Nations" (see Isa. viii:23). The adjective Galilean, also Galilaean, is used both of Jesus, who was raised and began preaching there, and his followers (1610s), who was born there, and of the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1727); the 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." Galilean also figures as the word applied to early Christians among the pagans and Jews. Old and Middle English had Galileish
gall (n.1) Look up gall at
"bile, liver secretion," Old English galla (Anglian), gealla (West Saxon) "gall, bile," from Proto-Germanic *gallon "bile" (cognates: 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 referring to bright materials and gold, and bile or gall (see glass). Informal sense of "impudence, boldness" first recorded American English 1882; but meaning "embittered spirit, rancor" is from c. 1200, from the medieval theory of humors.
gall (n.2) Look up gall at
"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.
gall (v.) Look up gall at
"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.
gall (n.3) Look up gall at
"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.
gall-bladder (n.) Look up gall-bladder at
1670s, from gall (n.1) + bladder.
Gallagher Look up Gallagher at
surname, from Irish Gallchobhar "foreign-help." Compare Galloway.
gallant (n.) Look up gallant at
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.
gallant (adj.) Look up gallant at
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.
gallantly (adv.) Look up gallantly at
1550s, "showily," from gallant (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "with exaggerated courtesy toward women" is from 1610s.
gallantry (n.) Look up gallantry at
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.).
galleon (n.) Look up galleon at
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.
GALLEON. The accepted term for the type of ship which the Spaniards used in 1588; that is, an armed merchantman of exceptional quality, combining the strength of the mediaeval trader with some of the finer lines and fighting features of the GALLEY. [Sir Geoffrey Callender, "Sea Passages," 1943]
Italian agumented form of galea, galeaza, led to a different 16c. ship-name in English, galliass (1540s).
galleria (n.) Look up galleria at
Italian form of gallery.
gallery (n.) Look up gallery at
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:
Super altare Beatæ Mariæ in occidentali porte ejusdem ecclesiæ quæ Galilæ a vocatur. [c.1186 charter in "Durham Cathedral"]
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).
galley (n.) Look up galley at
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.

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.
galley-slave (n.) Look up galley-slave at
1560s, from galley (n.) in the "ship" sense + slave (n.). The ships were often rowed by slaves or convicts.
galleywest (adv.) Look up galleywest at
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.
"Matter? why d--n my old shoes, Captain Williams, here is one of that bloody Don Dego's shot gone right through the galley-door, and through the side of the big copper, and knocked all the beef and hot water galley-west. ..." [N.Ames, "Old Sailor's Yarns," New York, 1835]
Gallic (adj.) Look up Gallic at
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).
It means not simply 'French,' but 'characteristically', 'delightfully', 'distressingly', or 'amusingly' 'French' ... not 'of France', but 'of the typical Frenchman'. [Fowler]
As "of or pertaining to the ancient Gauls" from 1796.
Gallicism (n.) Look up Gallicism at
"French word or idiom," 1650s, from Gallic + -ism.