"frolic, merrymaking," 1590s, earlier gambolde "a skipping, a leap or spring" (1510s), from Middle French gambade (15c.), from Late Latin gamba "horse's hock or leg," from Greek kampe "a bending" (on notion of "a joint"); see campus. Ending altered perhaps by confusion with formerly common ending -aud, -ald (as in ribald).
"skip about in sport," 1580s; earlier gambade (c. 1500), from Middle French gambader, from gambade (see gambol (n.)). Compare Middle English gambon "a ham" (see gammon); English dialectal gammerel "small of the leg;" gamble "a leg." Related: Gamboled; gamboling; gambolling.
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