- godmother (n.)
- woman who sponsors one at baptism, late 13c., from god + mother (n.1); modifying or replacing Old English godmodor.
- godsend (n.)
- 1814, "a shipwreck" (from the perspective of people living along the coast), from Middle English Godes sonde (c.1200) "God's messenger; what God sends, gift from God, happening caused by God," from god + Middle English sonde "that which is sent, message," from Old English sand, from sendan (see send (v.)). Sense of "happy chance" is from 1831.
- godson (n.)
- "male child one sponsors at baptism," c.1200, from God + son.
- also God speed, early 14c., "quickly, speedily" (late 13c. as a surname), from god + speed (v.). As a parting salutation, from mid-15c.
- goer (n.)
- late 14c., "one who goes on foot, a walker," agent noun of go. From mid-13c. as a surname. Of a horse, especially of one that goes fast (1690s); hence transferred use, of persons, "one who lives loosely" (c.1810).
- third person singular of go, Old English gaæs (Northumbrian), displacing alternative goeth (Old English gaeþ) except in archaic and liturgical use.
- gofer (n.)
- "errand-runner," 1956, American English coinage from go for (coffee, spare parts, etc.), with a pun on gopher.
- goggle (v.)
- 1530s, from Middle English gogelen "to roll (the eyes) about" (late 14c.), influenced by Middle English gogel-eyed "squint-eyed, one-eyed" (late 14c.), of uncertain origin, perhaps somehow imitative. As a surname (Robert le Gogel) attested from c.1300. Related: Goggled; goggling. As a noun, 1650s, "goggling look;" earlier "person who goggles" (1610s).
- goggle-eyed (adj.)
- late 14c.; see goggle (v.).
- goggles (n.)
- "spectacles, protective eyeglasses," 1715; see goggle.
- Goidelic (adj.)
- "pertaining to the branch of Celtic languages that includes Irish, Gaelic, and Manx," 1882, coined by Sir John Rhys (and first used in his "Celtic Britain"), from Old Irish Goidel "Gael" (see Gael).
- going (n.)
- verbal noun from go (v.), c.1300. Going to "be about to" is from late 15c. To go while the going is good is from 1916. Goings-on attested from 1775; going over is 1872 as "scolding," 1919 as "inspection."
- goiter (n.)
- 1620s, from French goître (16c.), from Rhône dialect, from Old Provençal goitron "throat, gullet," from Vulgar Latin *gutturiosum or *gutturionem, from Latin guttur "throat" (see guttural).
- goitre (n.)
- alternative spelling of goiter.
- gold (n.)
- Old English gold, from Proto-Germanic *gulth- (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German gold, German Gold, Middle Dutch gout, Dutch goud, Old Norse gull, Danish guld, Gothic gulþ), from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives referring to bright materials and gold (compare Old Church Slavonic zlato, Russian zoloto, Sanskrit hiranyam, Old Persian daraniya-, Avestan zaranya- "gold;" see glass).
As an adjective from c.1200. In reference to the color of the metal, it is recorded from c.1400. Gold rush is attested from 1859, originally in an Australian context. Gold medal as first prize in a contest is from 1908.
- gold digger (n.)
- also gold-digger, "woman who pursues men for their money," first recorded 1915. Literal sense attested from 1830.
- gold-mine (n.)
- late 15c., from gold + mine (n.). Figurative use by 1882.
- goldbrick (n.)
- "shirker," 1914, World War I armed forces slang, from earlier verb meaning "to swindle, cheat" (1902) from the old con game of selling spurious "gold" bricks (attested by 1882).
- golden (adj.)
- c.1300, "made of gold," from gold + -en (2); replacing Middle English gilden, from Old English gyldan. Gold is one of the few Modern English nouns that form adjectives meaning "made of ______" by adding -en (as in wooden, leaden, waxen, olden); Old English also had silfren "made of silver," stænen "made of stone."
As a color from late 14c. Figurative sense of "excellent, precious, best" is from late 14c. Golden mean "avoidance of excess" translates Latin aurea mediocritas (Horace). Golden age, period of past perfection, is from 1550s, from a concept found in Greek and Latin writers; in sense of "old age" it is from 1961. The moralistic golden rule earlier was the golden law, so called from 1670s.
Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same. [George Bernard Shaw, 1898]
- goldenrod (n.)
- 1560s, from golden + rod.
- goldfinch (n.)
- from Old English goldfinc; see gold + finch.
- goldfish (n.)
- 1690s, from gold + fish (n.); introduced into England from China, where they are native. A goldfish bowl, figurative of a situation of no privacy, was in use by 1935.
- name for a person with bright yellow hair, 1540s, from adj. form of gold + lock in the hair sense. The story of the Three Bears first was printed in Robert Southey's miscellany "The Doctor" (1837), but the central figure there was a bad-tempered old woman. Southey did not claim to have invented the story, and older versions have been traced, either involving an old woman or a "silver-haired" girl (though in at least one version it is a fox who enters the house). The identification of the girl as Goldilocks is attested only from c.1875.
- goldsmith (n.)
- Old English gold-smith, from gold + smith.
- Goldwynism (n.)
- 1937, in reference to the many malaprop remarks credited to U.S. film producer Samuel G. Goldwyn (1882-1974); the best-known, arguably, being "include me out."
- golem (n.)
- "artificial man, automaton," 1897, from Hebrew golem [Psalm cxxxix:16] "shapeless mass, embryo," from galam "he wrapped up, folded."
- golf (n.)
- mid-15c., Scottish gouf, usually taken as an alteration of Middle Dutch colf, colve "stick, club, bat," from Proto-Germanic *kulth- (cognates: Old Norse kolfr "clapper of a bell," German Kolben "mace, club"). The game is from 14c., the word is first mentioned (along with fut-bol) in a 1457 Scottish statute on forbidden games. Golf ball attested from 1540s. Despite what you read on the Internet, "golf" is not an acronym. Golf widow is from 1890.
Oh! who a golfer's bride would be,
Fast mated with a laddie
Who every day goes out to tee
And with him takes the caddie.
["The Golf Widow's Lament," in "Golf," Oct. 31, 1890]
- golf (v.)
- c.1800, golf (n.). Related: Golfed; golfing.
- golfer (n.)
- early 15c., agent noun from golf.
- hill near Jerusalem, via Latin and Greek, from Aramaic gulgulta, literally "(place of the) skull," cognate with Hebrew gulgoleth "skull." So called in reference to its shape (see Calvary).
- Late Latin Goliath, from Hebrew Golyath, name of the Philistine giant slain by David [I Sam. xvii].
- golliwog (n.)
- "grotesque blackface doll," 1895, coined by English children's book author and illustrator Florence K. Upton (1873-1922), perhaps from golly + polliwog.
- euphemism for God, first recorded 1775, in a source that refers to it as "a sort of jolly kind of oath, or asseveration much in use among our carters, & the lowest people."
- Biblical site, from Hebrew 'omer "sheaf" (of corn, etc.), probably a reference to the fertility of the region.
- gonad (n.)
- 1880, from Modern Latin gonas (plural gonades), coined from Greek gone, gonos "seed, act of generation, race, family," from gignesthai "be born," related to genos "race, birth, descent" (see genus). Related: gonads.
- gondola (n.)
- 1540s, from Italian (Venetian) gondola, earlier in English as goundel, from Old Italian gondula, of unknown origin; according to Barnhart, perhaps a diminutive of gonda, name of a kind of boat. Meaning "cabin of an airship" is 1896, though it was used hypothetically in 1881 in a prediction piece titled "300 Years Hence":
You step into an aerial gondola ... and are at once borne upwards.
- gondolier (n.)
- c.1600, from French gondolier and directly from Italian gondoliere, from gondola (see gondola).
- name of a region in north central India, from Sanskrit gondavana, from vana "forest" + Gonda, name of a Dravidian people, literally "fleshy navel, outie belly-button." The name was extended by geologists to a series of sedimentary rocks found there (1873), then to identical rocks in other places; the fossils found in this series were used by geologists to reconstruct the ancient southern supercontinent, which therefore was called Gondwanaland (1896), from German, where it was coined by German geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914) in 1885.
- past participle of go.
- goner (n.)
- "something dead or about to die," 1850, from gone + -er (1). From earlier expressions such as gone goose (1830), gone coon, etc.
- 1590s, variant of Middle English gonfanon (c.1300), from Old French gonfanon "knight's pennon" (12c.), from Old High German guntfano "battle flag," from Proto-Germanic *gunthja- "war," from PIE *gwhen- "to strike, kill" (see bane) + *fano "banner" (compare Gothic fana "cloth"). Cognate with Old English guþfana, Old Norse gunnfani. Change of -n- to -l- by dissimilation.
- gong (n.)
- c.1600, from Malay gong, probably imitative of its sound when struck. As a verb from 1903.
- attempt to represent the casual pronunciation of going to. In Scottish dialect, ganna, gaunna recorded from 1806.
- gonorrhea (n.)
- also gonorrhoea, 1520s, from Late Latin gonorrhoia, from gonos "seed" (see gonad) + rhoe "flow," from rhein "to flow" (see rheum). Mucus discharge was mistaken for semen. In early records often Gomoria, etc., from folk etymology association with biblical Gomorrah.
- gonzo (adj.)
- 1971, American English, in Hunter S. Thompson's phrase gonzo journalism. Thompson in 1972 said he got it from editor Bill Cardosa and explained it as "some Boston word for weird, bizarre." Probably from Italian gonzo "rude, sottish," perhaps from Spanish ganso and ultimately from the Germanic word for "goose."
- goo (n.)
- 1903, American English, of obscure origin, probably a back-formation from gooey.
- goo-goo (adj.)
- "amorous," 1900, perhaps connected with goggle, because the earliest reference is in goo-goo eyes. The sense of "baby-talk" is from 1863. Use in reference to politics began 1890s, and seems to be a shortening of Good Government as a movement to clean up municipal corruption in Boston, New York, etc. It soon was extended to mean "naive political reformer."
- goober (n.)
- "peanut," 1833, American English, of African origin, perhaps Bantu (compare Kikongo and Kimbundu nguba "peanut").
- good (adj.)
- Old English god (with a long "o") "virtuous; desirable; valid; considerable," probably originally "having the right or desirable quality," from Proto-Germanic *gothaz (cognates: Old Norse goðr, Dutch goed, Old High German guot, German gut, Gothic goþs), originally "fit, adequate, belonging together," from PIE root *ghedh- "to unite, be associated, suitable" (cognates: Old Church Slavonic godu "pleasing time," Russian godnyi "fit, suitable," Old English gædrian "to gather, to take up together"). As an expression of satisfaction, from early 15c.; of children, "well-behaved," by 1690s.
Irregular comparatives (better, best) reflect a widespread pattern, as in Latin bonus, melior, optimus. Good-for-nothing is from 1711. Good looking is attested from 1780 (good looks by c.1800). Good sport, of persons, is from 1906; good to go is attested from 1989. The good book "the Bible" attested from 1801, originally in missionary literature describing the language of conversion efforts in American Indian tribes.
Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing. ["As You Like It"]
Phrase for good "finally, permanently" attested from 1711, a shortening of for good and all (16c.). Middle English had for good ne ylle (early 15c.) "for good nor ill," thus "under any circumstance."
- good (n.)
- Old English gōd "that which is good, goodness; advantage, benefit; gift; virtue; property;" from good (adj.).