- gold-digger (n.)
- 1816, "one who seeks gold in the ground or a stream bed," from gold (n.) + digger. As "woman who pursues men for their money," first recorded 1915.
- gold-dust (n.)
- 1703, from gold (n.) + dust (n.).
- gold-leaf (n.)
- 1727, from gold (n.) + leaf (n.).
- gold-mine (n.)
- late 15c., "place where gold is dug out of the earth," from gold (n.) + mine (n.). Figurative use "anything productive of great wealth" is by 1882.
- goldarn (adj.)
- 1832, American English, euphemistic deformation of God-damn.
- golden (adj.)
- c. 1300, "made of gold," from gold (n.) + -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); those that survive often do so in specialized senses. Old English also had silfren "made of silver," stænen "made of stone," etc.
From late 14c. as "of the color of gold." Figurative sense of "excellent, precious, best, most valuable" is from late 14c.; that of "favorable, auspicious" is from c. 1600. 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 recorded from 1961. San Francisco Bay's entrance channel was called the Golden Gate by John C. Fremont (1866). The moralistic golden rule earlier was the golden law (1670s).
Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them [Matt. vii:12]
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 (n.). So called for its yellow heads.
- goldfinch (n.)
- Old English goldfinc; see gold (adj.) + finch. So called for its yellow wing markings. Compare German Goldfink.
- goldfish (n.)
- 1690s, from gold (adj.) + fish (n.). The fish were introduced into England from China, where they are native. A type of carp, they are naturally a dull olive color; the rich colors (also red, black, silver) are obtained by selective breeding. Goldfish bowl, figurative of a situation of no privacy, was in use by 1935.
- Goldilocks (n.)
- name for a person with bright yellow hair, 1540s, from goldy (adj.) "of a golden color" (mid-15c., from gold (n.)) + plural of lock (n.2). 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 from c. 1875. Goldylocks also is attested from 1570s as a name for the buttercup.
- goldsmith (n.)
- "artisan who works in gold," Old English goldsmið, from gold (n.) + smith (n.). Similar formation in Dutch goudsmid, German Goldschmeid, Danish guldsmed.
- Goldwynism (n.)
- 1937, in reference to the many humorous malaprop remarks credited to U.S. film producer Samuel G. Goldwyn (1882-1974); the best-known, arguably, being "include me out." Goldwyn is perhaps less popular as the originator of such phrases in American English than baseball player Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (1925-2015), but there doesn't seem to be a noun form based on Berra's name in popular use. The surname typically is Old English goldwyn, literally "gold-friend."
- 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, butt-end of a gun"). The game is from 14c., the word is first mentioned (along with fut-bol) in a 1457 Scottish statute on forbidden games (a later ordinance decrees, "That in na place of the realme thair be vsit fut-ballis, golf, or vther sic unprofitabill sportis" [Acts James IV, 1491, c.53]). Despite what you read on the Internet, "golf" is not an acronym (this story seems to date back no earlier than 1997). Golf ball attested from 1540s; the motorized golf-cart from 1951. 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, from golf (n.). Related: Golfed; golfing.
- golfer (n.)
- 1721, agent noun from golf.
- hill near Jerusalem where Christ was crucified, via Latin and Greek, from Aramaic gulgulta, literally "(place of the) skull," cognate with Hebrew gulgoleth "skull." The hill so called for its shape (see Calvary).
- goliath (n.)
- "a giant," 1590s, from Late Latin Goliath, from Hebrew Golyath, name of the Philistine giant slain by David [I Sam. xvii]. As a type of beetle from 1826.
- golliwog (n.)
- type of grotesque blackface doll, 1895, coined by English children's book author and illustrator Florence K. Upton (1873-1922), perhaps from golly + polliwog.
- golly (interj.)
- euphemism for God, by 1775, in Gilbert White's journal; he 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. Related: Gomorrean.
- gonad (n.)
- 1880, from Modern Latin gonas (plural gonades), coined from Greek gone, gonos "child, offspring; seed, that which engenders; birth, childbirth; race, stock, family," related to gignesthai "be born," genos "race, birth, descent," from PIE *gon-o-, suffixed form of root *gen- "to give birth, beget" (see genus). Related: gonads; gonadal.
- imaginary land invented by the Brontë sisters, also the name of its inhabitants.
- gondola (n.)
- 1540s, "long, narrow flat-bottomed boat used in Venice," from Italian (Venetian) gondola, earlier in English as goundel, from Old Italian gondula, of unknown origin; according to Barnhart, perhaps a diminutive of gonda, a name of a kind of boat. Used of flat, open railway cars by 1871. Meaning "cabin of an airship" is from 1896, though it was used hypothetically in 1881 in a futurism piece titled "300 Years Hence." Of ski-lifts from 1957.
- gondolier (n.)
- c. 1600, from French gondolier and directly from Italian gondoliere, agent noun from gondola (see gondola).
- name of a region in north central India, from Sanskrit gondavana, from vana "forest" + Gonda, Sanskrit name of a Dravidian people, said to mean 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. Because the fossils found in this series were used by geologists to reconstruct the map of the supercontinent which broke up into the modern southern continents of the globe about 180 million years ago, this was called Gondwanaland (1896), from German, where it was coined by German geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914) in 1885.
- gone (adj.)
- "hopeless, beyond recovery," 1590s, past participle adjective from go (v.). In jazz slang as a superlative from 1946.
- goner (n.)
- "something dead or about to die, person past recovery, one who is done for in any way," 1836, American English colloquial, from gone + -er (1). From earlier expressions such as gone goose (1830), gone coon, etc.
- gonfalon (n.)
- 1590s, variant of Middle English gonfanon (c. 1300), from Old French gonfanon "knight's pennon" (12c., Modern French gonfalon), from Frankish *gundfano or Old High German guntfano "battle flag," from a Proto-Germanic compound of *gunthjo "war, battle" (from PIE *gwhen- "to strike, kill;" see bane) + *fano "banner" (compare Gothic fana "cloth;" see fane). Cognate with Old English guþfana, Old Norse gunnfani. Change of -n- to -l- by dissimilation.
- gong (n.)
- c. 1600, from Malay gong, which is probably imitative of its sound when struck. As a verb by 1853. Related: Gonged; gonging.
- goniometer (n.)
- instrument for measuring solid angles, 1766, from Greek gonia "corner, angle," from PIE root *genu- (1) "knee; angle" (see knee (n.)) + -meter. Related: Goniometry.
- attempt to represent the casual pronunciation of going to. In Scottish dialect, ganna, gaunna recorded from 1806.
- before vowels gon-, word-forming element from Greek gonos "seed, that which engenders," from PIE *gon-o-, suffixed form of root *gen- "to give birth, beget" (see genus).
- gonoph (n.)
- also gonof, "thief, pickpocket," London slang, 1852, said to have been introduced by German Jews, from Hebrew gannabh "thief," with form altered in English as if from gone off.
- gonorrhea (n.)
- also gonorrhoea, 1520s, from Late Latin gonorrhoia, from Greek 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. Related: Gonorrheal; gonorrhoeal.
- gony (n.)
- 1580s, "simpleton, stupid person," of unknown origin. Applied by sailors to the albatross and similar big, clumsy birds (1839). Related: Gony-bird.
- 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 (Neapolitan) gonzo "rude, sottish," a word of unknown origin, perhaps from Spanish ganso and ultimately from the Germanic word for "goose" (see goose (n.)).
- 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. Use in reference to politics is from 1890s and seems to be a shortening of Good Government as the name of a movement to clean up municipal corruption in Boston, New York, etc. It soon was extended to mean "naive political reformer." Goo-goo as imitative of baby-talk is from 1863.
- goober (n.)
- "peanut," 1833, gouber, American English, from an African language, perhaps Bantu (compare Kikongo and Kimbundu nguba "peanut").
- good (n.)
- Old English god (with a long "o"), "that which is good, a good thing; goodness; advantage, benefit; gift; virtue; property;" from good (adj.). Meaning "the good side" (of something) is from 1660s. 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 (adj.)
- Old English god (with a long "o") "excellent, fine; valuable; desirable, favorable, beneficial; full, entire, complete;" of abstractions, actions, etc., "beneficial, effective; righteous, pious;" of persons or souls, "righteous, pious, virtuous;" probably originally "having the right or desirable quality," from Proto-Germanic *godaz "fitting, suitable" (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").
Irregular comparative and superlative (better, best) reflect a widespread pattern in words for "good," as in Latin bonus, melior, optimus.
Sense of "kind, benevolent" is from late Old English in reference to persons or God, from mid-14c. of actions. That of "friendly, gracious" is from c. 1200. Meaning "fortunate, prosperous, favorable" was in late Old English. As an expression of satisfaction, from early 15c. Of persons, "skilled (at a profession or occupation), expert," in late Old English, now typically with at; in Middle English with of or to. Of children, "well-behaved," by 1690s. Of money, "not debased, standard as to value," from late 14c. From c. 1200 of numbers or quantities, "large, great," of time or distance, "long;" good while "a considerable time" is from c. 1300; good way "a great distance" is mid-15c.
Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing. ["As You Like It"]
As good as "practically, virtually" is from mid-14c.; to be good for "beneficial to" is from late 14c. To make good "repay (costs, expenses), atone for (a sin or an offense)" is from late 14c. To have a good mind "have an earnest desire" (to do something) is from c. 1500. Good deed, good works were in Old English as "an act of piety;" good deed specifically as "act of service to others" was reinforced early 20c. by Boy Scouting. Good turn is from c. 1400. Good sport, of persons, is from 1906. The good book "the Bible" attested from 1801, originally in missionary literature describing the language of conversion efforts in American Indian tribes. Good to go is attested from 1989.
- good den
- salutation, Elizabethan corruption of good e'en, itself a contraction of good even "good evening," which is attested from c. 1500, first as gud devon, showing a tendency toward misdivision. See good (adj.) + even (n.).
- Good Friday (n.)
- the Friday before Easter, c. 1300, from good (adj.) in Middle English sense of "holy, sacred," especially of holy days or seasons observed by the church; the word also was applied to Christmas and Shrove Tuesday. Good Twelfthe Dai (c. 1500) was Epiphany (the twelfth day after Christmas).
- good morning
- greeting salutation, c. 1400, from good (adj.) + morning. Earlier good morwe (late 14c.), from morrow.
- good will (n.)
- Old English godes willan "state of wishing well to another;" see good (adj.) + will (n.). Meaning "cheerful acquiescence" is from c. 1300. In the commercial sense "degree of favor enjoyed through patronage of customers" from 1570s.
- salutation in parting, also goodbye, good bye, good-by, 1590s, from godbwye (1570s), a contraction of God be with ye (late 14c.), influenced by good day, good evening, etc. As a noun from 1570s. Intermediate forms in 16c. include God be wy you, God b'uy, God buoye, God buy, etc.
- good-day (n.)
- early 12c., "a fortunate day," also, generally, "good fortune;" from good (adj.) + day (n.). As a salutation in parting, haue godne day "have good day" is recorded from c. 1200; good day as a greeting is from late 14c.
- good-for-nothing (adj.)
- "worthless," 1711, from adjectival phrase (see good (adj.)).
- good-humored (adj.)
- also good-humoured, 1660s, from good (adj.) + past participle adjective from humor (v.). Related: Good-humoredly.