gamely (adv.) Look up gamely at
"courageously," 1861, from game (adj.2) + -ly (2). In Old English and Middle English the adverb meant "artfully; joyfully."
gamer (n.) Look up gamer at
mid-15c., "an athlete" (mid-13c. as a surname, Johannes le Gamer), agent noun from game (v.). Meaning "one devoted to playing video or computer games" is attested by 1981 (by 1975 in reference to players of Dungeons & Dragons). Gamester is attested from 1580s but also sometimes meant "prostitute" (compare old slang The Game "sexual intercourse" (by 1930s), probably from the first game ever played "copulation"). From 1550s as "a gambler." Gamesman is from 1947.
Quite a few of the gamers we've encountered during our monthly strolls down "Arcade Alley" suffer the same chronic frustration: finding enough opponents to slake their thirst for endless hours of play. ["Video" magazine, May 1981]
gamete (n.) Look up gamete at
"sexual protoplasmic body," 1880, coined 1878 by German cytologist Eduard Strasburger (1844-1912), the widespread attribution of the word's coinage to Mendel being apparently erroneous. From Greek gamete "a wife," gametes "a husband," from gamein "to take to wife, to marry," from PIE root *gem(e)- "to marry" (cognates: Greek gambros "son-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law;" Sanskrit jamih "brother, sister," jama daughter-in-law;" Avestan zama-tar "son-in-law;" Latin gener "son-in-law"). See also -gamy. The seventh month of the ancient Attic calendar (corresponding to late January and early February) was Gamelion, "Month of Marriages." Related: Gametal.
gamey (adj.) Look up gamey at
also gamy, 1844, "spirited, plucky," from game (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "tasting or smelling strongly" is from 1863.
gamin (n.) Look up gamin at
"street urchin," 1837, from French gamin (late 18c.), perhaps from Berrichon dialect gamer "to steal." Introduced in English in translations of Hugo.
Un groupe d'enfants, de ces petits sauvages vanu-pieds qui ont de tout temps battu le pavé de Paris sous le nom éternel de gamins, et qui, lorsque nous étions enfants aussi, nous ont jeté des pierres à tous, le soir, au sortir de classe, parce que nos pantalons n'étaient pas déchirés; etc. [Hugo, "Notre-Dame de Paris"]
gamine (n.) Look up gamine at
"small, slim, pert young girl," 1899, from French gamine, fem. of gamin.
gaming (n.) Look up gaming at
c. 1500, "gambling," verbal noun from game (v.). From 1980s in reference to video and computer games. Gaming-house is from 1620s; gaming-table from 1590s.
gamma Look up gamma at
third letter of the Greek alphabet, c. 1400, from Greek gamma, from Phoenician gimel, said to mean literally "camel" (see camel) and to be so called for a fancied resemblance of its shape to some part of a camel. Gamma rays (1903) originally were thought to be a third type of radiation, but later were found to be very short X-rays.
gammadion (n.) Look up gammadion at
ornamental figure formed of four capital gammas, Medieval Greek gammadion, diminutive of Greek gamma (see gamma).
gammer (n.) Look up gammer at
"old woman," 1570s, contraction of grandmother (corresponding to gaffer, but according to OED representing a different construction).
gammon (n.) Look up gammon at
"ham or haunch of a swine," especially when smoked and cured, early 15c., gambon, from Old North French gambon "ham" (Old French jambon, 13c.), from gambe (Old French jambe) "leg," from Late Latin gamba "leg of an animal" (see gambol (n.)).
gams (n.) Look up gams at
"legs," 1781, low slang, probably the same word as gamb "leg of an animal on a coat of arms" (1727) and ultimately from Middle English gamb "leg," which is from French (see gammon). Now, in American English slang, especially with reference to well-formed legs of pretty women, but this was not the original sense.
gamut (n.) Look up gamut at
1520s, "low G, lowest note in the medieval musical scale" (the system of notation devised by Guido d'Arezzo), a contraction of Medieval Latin gamma ut, from gamma, the Greek letter, used in medieval music notation to indicate the note below the A which began the classical scale, + ut (now do), the low note on the six-note musical scale that took names from syllables sung to those notes in a Latin sapphic hymn for St. John the Baptist's Day:
Ut queant laxis resonare fibris
Mira gestorum famuli tuorum,
Solve pollutis labiis reatum,
Sancte Iohannes
The ut being the conjunction "that." Gamut also was used for "range of notes of a voice or instrument" (1630s), also "the whole musical scale," hence the figurative sense of "entire scale or range" of anything, first recorded 1620s. When the modern octave scale was set early 16c., si was added, changed to ti in Britain and U.S. to keep the syllables as different from each other as possible. Ut later was replaced by more sonorous do (n.). See also solmization.
gamy (adj.) Look up gamy at
see gamey.
ganch (v.) Look up ganch at
"to impale on hooks or pointed stakes as a means of capital punishment," 1610s, from French *ganchor, from Italian *ganciare, from gancio "hook," from Turkish kanca "hook, barb, grapnel." Related: Ganched; ganching. Also, as a noun, the name of the punishment or the thing used in it, 1620s.
gander (v.) Look up gander at
"take a long look," slang, 1886, from gander (n.) on the notion of craning one's neck like a goose; earlier it meant "to wander foolishly" (1680s). Related: Gandered; gandering.
gander (n.) Look up gander at
Old English gandra "male goose," from Proto-Germanic *gan(d)ron (cognates: Dutch gander, Middle Low German ganre), from PIE *ghans- "goose" (see goose (n.)). OED suggests perhaps it was originally the name of some other water-bird and cites Lithuanian gandras "stork." Sometimes used 19c. in reference to single men or male-only gatherings (compare stag). Meaning "a long look" is 1912, from gander (v.).
gandy dancer Look up gandy dancer at
"railroad maintenance worker," 1918, American English slang, of unknown origin; dancer perhaps from movements required in the work of tamping down ties or pumping a hand-cart, gandy perhaps from the name of a machinery belt company in Baltimore, Maryland.
gang (v.) Look up gang at
1856, from gang (n.). Related: Ganged; ganging. To gang up (on) is first attested 1919.
gang (n.) Look up gang at
from Old English gang "a going, journey, way, passage," and Old Norse gangr "a group of men, a set," both from Proto-Germanic *gangaz (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Danish, Dutch, Old High German, German gang, Old Norse gangr, Gothic gagg "act of going"), from PIE root *ghengh- "to step" (cognates: Sanskrit jangha "shank," Avestan zanga- "ankle," Lithuanian zengiu "I stride"). Thus not considered to be related to go.

The sense evolution is probably via meaning "a set of articles that usually are taken together in going" (mid-14c.), especially a set of tools used on the same job. By 1620s this had been extended in nautical speech to mean "a company of workmen," and by 1630s the word was being used, with disapproving overtones, for "any band of persons traveling together," then "a criminal gang or company" (gang of thieves, gang of roughs, etc.). By 1855 gang was being used in the sense "group of criminal or mischievous boys in a city." In American English, especially of slaves working on plantations (1724). Also formerly used of animal herds or flocks (17c.-19c.). Gangway preserves the original sense of the word, as does gangplank.
Gang of Four Look up Gang of Four at
1976, translating Chinese sirenbang, the nickname given to the four leaders of the Cultural Revolution who took the fall in Communist China after the death of Mao.
gang-bang (n.) Look up gang-bang at
1953, "group sex" (especially many men on one woman or girl, regardless of consent), from gang + bang (v.) in its slang, "perform sexual intercourse" sense. Earlier was gang-shag (1927). Sense of "participate in a street gang" is by 1968. Related: Gang-banger; gang-banging.
gang-plank (n.) Look up gang-plank at
also gangplank, 1842, American English, from gang in its nautical sense of "a path for walking, passage" (see gangway) + plank. Replacing earlier gang-board.
gangbusters (n.) Look up gangbusters at
to come on like gangbusters (c. 1940) is from popular U.S. radio crime-fighting drama "Gang Busters" (1937-57) which always opened with a cacophony of sirens, screams, pistol shots, and jarring music.
Ganges Look up Ganges at
from Sanskrit ganga "current, river."
gangland (n.) Look up gangland at
"the criminal underworld; the realm of gangsters," 1912, from gang (n.) + land (n.).
ganglia (n.) Look up ganglia at
Latin plural of ganglion. Related: Gangliac, ganglial, gangliar, ganglious. The larger ones are plexuses (see plexus).
gangling (adj.) Look up gangling at
"long and loose-jointed," by 1812, from Scottish and Northern English gang (v.) "to walk, go," which is a survival of Old English gangan, which is related to gang (n.). The form of the word is that of a present-participle adjective from a frequentative verb (as in fondling, trampling), but no intermediate forms are known. The sense extension would seem to be via some notion involving looseness in walking.
GANGLING. Tall, slender, delicate, generally applied to plants. Warw. [James O. Halliwell, "A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words," 1846]
ganglion (n.) Look up ganglion at
1680s, "tumor, swelling;" 1732 as "bundle of nerves," from Greek ganglion "tumor under the skin," used by Galen for "nerve bundle;" of unknown origin. According to Galen, the proper sense of the word was "anything gathered into a ball."
gangly (adj.) Look up gangly at
1872 (Mark Twain, "Roughing It"), an American English alteration of gangling.
gangrene (n.) Look up gangrene at
"putrefaction or necrosis of soft tissues," 1540s, cancrena, from Latin gangraena (Medieval Latin cancrena), from medical Greek gangraina "an eating or gnawing sore," literally "that which eats away," dissimilated reduplicated form of gran- "to gnaw," from PIE root *gras- "to devour" (see gastric).
gangrenous (adj.) Look up gangrenous at
1610s, from gangrene + -ous. Perhaps modeled on French gangréneux.
gangsta Look up gangsta at
rap style generally credited to West Philly hip hop artist Schoolly D, but as for the word itself, his "Gangster Boogie" (1984) used the conventional spelling; NWA was spelling it gangsta by 1988.
gangster (n.) Look up gangster at
"member of a criminal gang," 1896, American English, from gang (n.) in its criminal sense + -ster. Related: Gangsterism (1918).
gangway (n.) Look up gangway at
"temporary passageway" to a ship, building under construction, etc., ultimately from Old English gangweg "road, passage, thoroughfare;" a compound of gang (n.) in its original sense "a going, journey, way, passage" and way (n.). Nautical use dates from 1680s in reference to a passage on the ship, from 1780 of the opening at the side whereby people enter and leave, and by 1840s of the board or bridge they use to get to and from the dock. As a command to clear way, attested by 1912, American English. In British parliamentary use, with somewhat the same sense aisle has in the U.S. Congress.
Below the g[angway], as a parliamentary phrase, is applied to members whose customary seat does not imply close association with the official policy of the party on whose side of the House they sit. [Fowler]
ganja (n.) Look up ganja at
also ganjah, powerful preparation of cannabis sativa, 1800, from Hindi ganjha.
gank (v.) Look up gank at
by 2000 as the verb that indicates the situation of many players or NPCs simultaneously attacking one; gamer slang, perhaps borrowed from hip-hop and drug-abuse slang (where it is attested by 1995 in the sense of "to rob, to rip off"); perhaps by 1990 in sports jargon. Of unknown origin; perhaps ultimately based on gang (v.). Related: Ganked; ganking.
gannet (n.) Look up gannet at
Old English ganot, name of a kind of sea-bird, from Proto-Germanic *ganton- (cognates: Dutch gent, Middle High German ganiz, Old High German ganazzo "a gander"), from PIE *ghans- "a goose" (see goose (n.)). Old French gante is from Germanic.
gantlet (n.) Look up gantlet at
"military punishment in which offender runs between rows of men who beat him in passing," 1640s, gantlope, gantelope, from Swedish gatlopp "passageway," from Old Swedish gata "lane" (see gate (n.)) + lopp "course," related to löpa "to run" (see leap (v.)). Probably borrowed by English soldiers during Thirty Years' War.

By normal evolution the Modern English form would be *gatelope, but the current spelling (first attested 1660s, not fixed until mid-19c.) is from influence of gauntlet (n.1) "a glove," "there being some vague association with 'throwing down the gauntlet' in challenge" [Century Dictionary].
gantry (n.) Look up gantry at
also gauntree, 1570s, "four-footed stand for a barrel," probably from Old North French gantier (Old French chantier, 13c., "store-room, stock-room"), from Latin cantherius "rafter, frame," also "a gelding," from Greek kanthelios "pack ass," which is related to kanthelion "rafter," of unknown origin. The connecting notion in all this seems to be framework for carrying things. Meaning "frame for a crane, etc." is from 1810. Railway signal sense attested by 1889. Derivation from tree (n.) + gawn "small bucket," an obsolete 16c. contraction of gallon, might be folk-etymology.
Ganymede Look up Ganymede at
Trojan youth taken by Zeus as his cup-bearer (and lover), from Greek Ganymedes, perhaps a non-Greek name, or from ganymai "I rejoice, am glad" (related to ganos "brightness; sheen; gladness, joy; pride") + medea (plural) "counsels, plans, cunning" (see Medea); taken in Greek folk-etymology to mean "delighting in genitals." Used figuratively of serving-boys (c. 1600) and catamites (1590s). Associated with Aquarius in the zodiac. As the name of one of the four large satellites of Jupiter, by 1847.
gaol (n.) Look up gaol at
see jail (n.), you tea-sodden football hooligan. Formerly in official use in Britain, and thus sometimes regarded in U.S. as a characteristic British spelling (though George Washington used it); by the time of OED 2nd edition (1980s) both spellings were considered correct there; the g- spelling is said to have been dominant longest in Australia.
[T]he very anomalous pronunciation of g soft before other vowels than e, i, & y ... is a strong argument for writing jail [Fowler]
gaoler (n.) Look up gaoler at
chiefly British English spelling of jailer.
gap (n.) Look up gap at
early 14c., "an opening in a wall or hedge; a break, a breach," mid-13c. in place names, from Old Norse gap "chasm, empty space," related to gapa "to gape, open the mouth wide," common Proto-Germanic (cognates: Middle Dutch, Dutch gapen, German gaffen "to gape, stare," Swedish gapa, Danish gabe), from PIE *ghai- "to yawn, gape" (see yawn (v.)). From late 14c. as "a break or opening between mountains;" broader sense "unfilled space or interval, any hiatus or interruption" is from c. 1600. In U.S., common in place names in reference to a deep break or pass in a long mountain chain (especially one that water flows through), a feature in the middle Appalachians.
gap (v.) Look up gap at
1847, "to make gaps" (transitive); 1948 "to have gaps" (intransitive), from gap (n.). Related: Gapped; gapping.
gap-toothed (adj.) Look up gap-toothed at
"having teeth set wide apart," 1570s, from gap (n.) + toothed "having teeth" (of a certain kind); see tooth (n.). Chaucer's gat-toothed, sometimes altered to this, is from Middle English gat (n.) "opening, passage," from Old Norse gat, cognate with gate (n.).
gape (v.) Look up gape at
early 13c., from an unrecorded Old English word or else from Old Norse gapa "to open the mouth wide, gape" (see gap (n.)). Related: Gaped; gaping. As a noun, "act of opening the mouth," from 1530s.
gaper (n.) Look up gaper at
1630s, "one who stares open-mouthed in wonder," agent noun from gape (v.). Gaper delay in traffic control parlance attested by 1995.
gaping (adj.) Look up gaping at
"standing wide open," 1570s (implied in gapingly), present participle adjective from gape (v.).
gappy (adj.) Look up gappy at
"full of gaps," 1846, from gap (n.) + -y (2).