"professional male escort or dancing partner, young man supported financially by an older woman in exchange for his attentions," 1922, from French gigolo, formed as a masc. of gigole "tall, thin woman; dancing girl; prostitute," perhaps from verb gigoter "to move the shanks, hop," from gigue "shank" (12c.), also "fiddle," Old French giga from Frankish *giga- or some other Germanic word (compare German Geige "fiddle"). This is perhaps the same word that was borrowed earlier as Middle English giglot (early 14c.) "lewd, wanton girl," which was later applied to males (mid-15c.) with the sense "villainous man." It is perhaps related to a number of words in Germanic meaning "dance, gambol," and "fiddle," perhaps connected by the notion of "rapid, whirling motion" (see gig (n.1)). Middle English gigletry meant "lasciviousness, harlotry" (late 14c.).
Naturally, no decent French girl would have been allowed for a single moment to dance with a gigolo. But America, touring Europe like mad after years of enforced absence, outnumbered all other nations atravel ten to one. [Edna Ferber, "Gigolo," 1922]
updated on September 25, 2018