- gigolo (n.)
- 1922, from French gigolo, formed as a masc. of gigole "tall, thin woman; dancing girl; prostitute," perhaps from verb gigoter "to move the shanks, hop," from gigue "shank," also "fiddle," of Germanic origin. This is perhaps the same word that was borrowed earlier as Middle English giglot (early 14c.) "lewd, wanton girl," which was later applied to males (mid-15c.) with the sense "villainous man." Middle English gigletry meant "lasciviousness, harlotry" (late 14c.).
- gila monster (n.)
- Heloderma suspectum, 1877, American English, from Gila River, which runs through its habitat in Arizona. The river name probably is from an Indian language, but it is unknown now which one, or what the word meant in it.
- masc. proper name, from Old French Guillebert (from Old High German Williberht, literally "a bright will") or Old French Gilebert, from Gisilbert, literally "a bright pledge," from Old High German gisil "pledge," a Celtic loan-word (cf. Old Irish giall "pledge") + beorht "bright." It was the common name for a male cat (especially in short form Gib) from c.1400 (see Tom). As a unit of magneto-motive force, it honors English physicist William Gilbert (1544-1603).
- gild (v.)
- Old English gyldan "to gild, to cover with a thin layer of gold," from Proto-Germanic *gulthianan (cf. Old Norse gylla "to gild," Old High German ubergulden "to cover with gold"), from *gulthan "gold" (see gold). Related: Gilded; gilding. Figuratively from 1590s.
- gilded (adj.)
- 1560s (late Old English had gegylde); in modern use the more dignified past participle of gild (q.v.). Shakespeare's lilies were never gilded; the quote ("King John," iv.2) is, "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily."
- Gilded Age
- in reference to an era in U.S. history, from the novel "The Gilded Age" by Mark Twain and C.D. Warner, published 1873.
- gilding (n.)
- "action of gilding," mid-15c.; "golden surface produced by gilding," 1630s; verbal noun from gild (v.).
- Biblical site (Gen. xxxi:21, etc.), traditionally from the name of a grandson of Manasseh, perhaps from Aramaic gal "heap of stones."
- masc. proper name, from Old French Gilles, from Latin Aegidius, from aegis (see aegis). Often used as a typical name of a simple-minded farmer.
- gill (n.1)
- "organ of breathing in fishes," early 14c., of unknown origin, perhaps from a Scandinavian source, e.g. Old Norse giolnar which perhaps means "gills;" Old Danish -gæln (in fiske-gæln "fish gill"). Related: Gills.
- gill (n.2)
- liquid measure (commonly a half-pint), late 13c., from Old French gille, a wine measure, and directly from Medieval Latin gillo "earthenware jar," of uncertain origin.
- fem. proper name, see Jill.
- fem. proper name, from French Juliane, from Latin Juliana (a saint's name), fem. of Julianus, literally "of Julius."
- gillyflower (n.)
- 1550s, folk etymology spelling (by association of flower) of gilofre, originally "clove," c.1300, from Old French girofle "clove," ultimately from Greek karyophyllon "clove, nut leaf, dried flower bud of clove tree," from karyon "nut" (see karyo-) + phyllon "leaf" (see folio). The flower so named for its scent, so called from late 14c.
- gilt (adj.)
- c.1400, past participle of Middle English gilden, from Old English gyldan (see gild). Also used as a noun with a sense of "gilding" (early 15c.).
- gimbal (n.)
- 1570s, "joints, connecting links;" alteration of gemel "twins" (late 14c.), from Old French jumel (Modern French jumeau) "a twin," from Latin gemellus, diminutive of geminus (see geminate). Related: Gimbals.
- gimcrack (n.)
- 1610s, "showy person;" sense of "trifle" first recorded 1839; of uncertain origin, perhaps alteration of gibecrake, a kind of ornament on wooden furniture (mid-14c.), perhaps from Old French giber "to rattle, shake" + Middle English crak "sharp noise, crack." In 18c.-19c. it also meant "a person who has a turn for mechanical contrivances."
- gimlet (n.)
- boring-tool, mid-14c., gymbelette, from Anglo-French guimbelet (French gibelet), perhaps from Middle Dutch wimmelkijn (with substitute of French diminutive suffix), diminutive of wimmel "auger, drill." The meaning "cocktail made with gin or vodka and lime juice" is first attested 1928, presumably from its "penetrating" effects on the drinker.
- by 1828, colloquial contraction of give me. Gimme cap attested by 1978.
TOMMY -- Gimme a cake.
MAMMA -- If what? -- If you please .
TOMMY -- O, let up on that Pinafore business; gimme a cake!
["Puck," July 2, 1878]
- gimmick (n.)
- 1926 (in Maine & Grant's "Wise-Crack Dictionary," which defines it as "a device used for making a fair game crooked"), American English, perhaps an alteration of gimcrack, or an anagram of magic.
- gimmickry (n.)
- 1952, from gimmick + -ry.
- gimmicky (adj.)
- 1948, from gimmick + -y (2).
- gimp (n.1)
- 1925, "a crippled leg," also "a crippled person," perhaps by association with limp, or a corruption of gammy (see game (adj.)).
- gimp (n.2)
- also gymp, ornamental material for trimming dresses, furniture, etc., 1660s, from French guimpe, Old French guimple "wimple, headdress, veil," from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German wimpal).
- 1925 (n.); 1931 (adj.); hobo slang, from gimp + -y.
- gin (n.1)
- "type of distilled drinking alcohol," 1714, shortening of geneva, altered (by influence of the similarity of the name of the Swiss city, with which it has no other connection) from Dutch genever "juniper" (because the alcohol was flavored with its berries), from Old French genevre, from Vulgar Latin *jeniperus, from Latin juniperus "juniper" (see juniper). Gin and tonic attested by 1873; gin-sling by 1790. Card game gin rummy first attested 1941 (described in "Life" that year as the latest Hollywood fad).
- gin (n.2)
- "machine for separating cotton from seeds," 1796, American English, used earlier of various other machineries, from Middle English gin "ingenious device, contrivance" (c.1200), from Old French gin "machine, device, scheme," shortened form of engin, from Latin ingenium (see engine). The verb in this sense is recorded from 1789.
- gin (v.1)
- in slang phrase gin up "enliven, make more exciting," 1887, probably from earlier ginger up in same sense (1849), from ginger in sense of "spice, pizzazz;" specifically in reference to the treatment described in the 1811 slang dictionary under the entry for feague:
... to put ginger up a horse's fundament, and formerly, as it is said, a live eel, to make him lively and carry his tail well; it is said, a forfeit is incurred by any horse-dealer's servant, who shall shew a horse without first feaguing him. Feague is used, figuratively, for encouraging or spiriting one up.
- gin (v.2)
- "to begin," c.1200, ginnen, shortened form of beginnen (see begin).
- ginger (n.)
- mid-14c., from Old English gingifer, from Medieval Latin gingiber, from Latin zingiberi, from Greek zingiberis, from Prakrit (Middle Indic) singabera, from Sanskrit srngaveram, from srngam "horn" + vera- "body," so called from the shape of its root. But this may be Sanskrit folk etymology, and the word may be from an ancient Dravidian name that also produced the Malayalam name for the spice, inchi-ver, from inchi "root." Cf. gin (v.). The word apparently was readopted in Middle English from Old French gingibre (Modern French gingembre). Meaning "spirit, spunk, temper" is from 1843, American English. Ginger-ale recorded by 1822; ginger-snap as a type of cookie is from 1855, American English.
- gingerbread (n.)
- late 13c., gingerbrar, from Old French ginginbrat "ginger preserve," from Medieval Latin gingimbratus "gingered," from gingiber (see ginger). The ending changed by folk etymology to -brede "bread," a formation attested by mid-14c. Originally "preserved ginger," the meaning "a kind of spiced cake" is from 15c. Figurative use, "showy, insubstantial" is from c.1600. Sense of "fussy decoration on a house" is first recorded 1757; gingerbread-work (1748) was a sailor's term for carved decoration on a ship.
- gingerly (adv.)
- 1510s, "elegantly, daintily," perhaps from Old French gensor, comp. of gent "dainty, delicate," from Latin gentius "(well)-born" (see gentle). Meaning "extremely cautiously" is from c.1600.
- gingham (n.)
- 1610s, from Dutch gingang, traders' rendering of a Malay word said to be ginggang "striped," used as a noun with the sense of "striped cotton." Cf. French guingan, Spanish guinga, Italian gingano, German gingang.
- gingival (adj.)
- 1660s, from Latin gingiva "gums" (of unknown origin) + -al (1).
- gingivitis (n.)
- 1874, from Latin gingiva "gums" + -itis.
- ginkgo (n.)
- 1773, from Japanese ginkyo, from Chinese yin-hing, from yin "silver" + hing "apricot" (Sino-Japanese kyo). Introduced to New World 1784 by William Hamilton in his garden near Philadelphia.
- Ginnie Mae
- 1970, fleshed out in the form of a fem. proper name, from GNMA, acronym of Government National Mortgage Association.
- ginormous (adj.)
- 1948, perhaps originally military colloquial, from a merger of gigantic + enormous.
- ginseng (n.)
- 1690s, from Chinese jen-shen. First element means "man," but the meaning of the second is obscure.
- in La Gioconda, name of the da Vinci painting also known as the Mona Lisa, from Italian gioconda, fem. of giocondo, from Latin jocundus (see jocund).
- attested from 1840 as an abbreviation of gypsy (q.v.). Also see gyp. Related: Gipped; gipping.
- alternative spelling of gypsy.
- giraffe (n.)
- 1590s, giraffa, from Italian giraffa, from Arabic zarafa, probably from an African language. Earlier Middle English spellings varied wildly, depending on the source, including jarraf, ziraph, and gerfauntz, some apparently directly from Arabic, the last reflecting some confusion with olifaunt "elephant."
In Arabye, þei ben clept Gerfauntz; þat is a best pomelee or spotted .. but a lityll more high þan is a stede, But he hath the necke a xxti cubytes long. [Mandeville's Travels, c.1425]
The modern form of the English word is attested by c.1600 and is via French girafe. Replaced earlier camelopard, a compound of camel (for the long neck) and pard (n.1) "leopard" (for the spots).
- girandole (n.)
- 1630s, a type of fireworks; 1825 as a type of earring or pendant, from French girandole, from Italian girandola, diminutive of giranda "a revolving jet," from Latin gyrandus, gerundive of gyrare "to turn round in a circle, revolve" (see gyration).
- 1580s, from Italian girasole, literally "turning toward the sun," from girare "to rotate" (see gyration) + sole (see Sol).
- gird (v.)
- Old English gyrdan "put a belt or girdle around; encircle, surround; invest with attributes," from Proto-Germanic *gurthjanan (cf. Old Norse gyrða, Old Saxon gurdian, Old Frisian gerda, Dutch gorden, Old High German gurtan, German gürten). Related to Old English geard "hedge, enclosure" (see yard (n.1)). Related: Girded; girding.
Throughout its whole history the English word is chiefly employed in rhetorical language, in many instances with more or less direct allusion to biblical passages. [OED]
- girder (n.)
- "main supporting beam that carries flooring," 1610s, agent noun from gird, on notion of something that "holds up" something else. Used of iron bridge supports from 1853.
- girdle (n.)
- Old English gyrdel "belt, sash, cord about the waist," common Germanic. (cf. Old Norse gyrðill, Swedish gördel, Old Frisian gerdel, Dutch gordel, Old High German gurtil, German Gürtel "belt"), related to Old English gyrdan "to gird" (see gird). Modern euphemistic sense of "elastic corset" first recorded 1925. The verb meaning "encircle with a girdle" is attested from 1580s. Meaning "to cut off a belt of bark around a trunk to kill a tree" is from 1660s. Related: Girdled; girdling.
- girl (n.)
- c.1300, gyrle "child" (of either sex), of unknown origin; current scholarship [OED says] leans toward an unrecorded Old English *gyrele, from Proto-Germanic *gurwilon-, diminutive of *gurwjoz (apparently also represented by Low German gære "boy, girl," Norwegian dialectal gorre, Swedish dialectal gurre "small child," though the exact relationship, if any, between all these is obscure), from PIE *ghwrgh-, also found in Greek parthenos "virgin." But this is highly conjectural. And Liberman (2008) writes:
Girl does not go back to any Old English or Old Germanic form. It is part of a large group of Germanic words whose root begins with a g or k and ends in r. The final consonant in girl is a diminutive suffix. The g-r words denote young animals, children, and all kinds of creatures considered immature, worthless, or past their prime.
Another candidate is Old English gierela "garment" (for possible sense evolution in this theory, cf. brat). Like boy, lass, lad it is of obscure origin. "Probably most of them arose as jocular transferred uses of words that had originally different meaning" [OED]. Specific meaning of "female child" is late 14c. Applied to "any young unmarried woman" since mid-15c. Meaning "sweetheart" is from 1640s. Girl next door as a type of unflashy attractiveness is recorded by 1953.
Doris [Day] was a big vocalist even before she hit the movies in 1948. There, as the latest movie colony "girl next door," sunny-faced Doris soon became a leading movie attraction as well as the world's top female recording star. "She's the girl next door, all right," said one Hollywood admirer. "Next door to the bank." ["Life" magazine, Dec. 22, 1958]
Girl Friday is from 1940, a reference to "Robinson Crusoe."
- girlfriend (n.)
- also girl-friend, by 1863 as "a woman's female friend in youth," from girl + friend (n.). As a man's sweetheart, by 1922.