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.
word-forming element making nouns implying a practice, system, doctrine, etc., from French -isme or directly from Latin -isma, -ismus (source also of Italian, Spanish -ismo, Dutch, German -ismus), from Greek -ismos, noun ending signifying the practice or teaching of a thing, from the stem of verbs in -izein, a verb-forming element denoting the doing of the noun or adjective to which it is attached. For distinction of use, see -ity. The related Greek suffix -isma(t)- affects some forms.