gag: To prevent someone talking. Middle English “gagge”=imitative of choking sound; perhaps < Old Norse “gaghals”=”with neck thrown back.”
gainsay: Take exception to; to disagree. Old English “gean”=against + “secgan”=to say.
gala: Social occasion with special entertainments or performances. Old French “gale”=rejoicing.
galactopote: A drinker of milk. Latin “galactopota” < Greek “galakto”=milk + “potos”=drinker < “potein”=to drink.
galanthophile: Expert on snowdrops. Latin “galanthus”=snowdrop < Greek “gala”=milk + “anthos”=flower + “filos”=loving.
galaxy: Millions of stars clustered together by gravity. Latin “galaxias”=Milky Way < Greek “galaxias kuklos”=milky circle < “gala”=milk.
gale: A very strong wind. Uncertain origin but possibly from Old Norse “galenn”=mad, frantic < “gala”=to sing.
gallery: Room for storing and showing works of art. French “galerie” < Latin “galeria”=covered space for walking in, partly open on one side
gallow: To hang on a gallows or cross. Old English “galga”=apparatus with two uprights and crosspiece from which criminals are hanged.
galoubet: A type of wooden flute with three holes. French “galoubet,” origin unknown, perhaps < Provencal “galaubeiar”=to act (play) well.
gam: Headman or chief of a tribe esp. in Northern India. Sanskirt “gramani”=village headman < “grama”=village + “ni”=leader.
gambit: Opening remark intended to secure an advantage for the speaker. From Italian “gambetto”=to trip up < Latin “gamba”=leg.
gamble: To bet money on a chance event. Old English “gamen”=amusement, fun, something done for pleasure.
game: An activity or sport played according to rules. Old English “gamen”=fun, amusement, something that causes laughter.
gamp: An umbrella, especially a loose, untidy one. Eponym from Mrs. Gamp in Dickens’ “Martin Chuzzlewit” – she carried a messy umbrella.
gang: Group of people acting together for a common purpose, often used of criminals. Old Norse “gangr”=going, walking (together).
gangplank: Movable plank to help sailors off a ship. Old English “gang”=the act of going + Latin “planca”=a board.
gardyloo: Warning cry from old Edinburgh said before throwing waste from a window. Pseudo-French “gare de l’eau”=beware of the water!
garlic: Strong-smelling pungent bulb used as in cooking and herbal medicine. Old English “gar”=spear (shape of a bud) + “leac”=leek.
garment: Article of clothing. Old French “garniment”=armor, vestments < “garnir”=to equip or prepare.
garnish: To decorate or embellish something, especially food. Old French “garnir”=to equip or make ready a garrison.
garrulous: Giving to much talking; chatty. Latin “garrulus”=talkative < “garrire”=to chat, prattle +”-ous”=suffix meaning “full of.”
garter: Band worn around the leg to keep up a stocking. Old French “gartier” < “garet”=the bend of the knee <?Celtic “gar”=leg-bone or ham.
gaudy: Ostentatiously or tastelessly ornamented; garish. Uncertain origin but possibly Latin “gaud”=trickery/pretense < “gaudere”=to rejoice.
gazette: A publication of current events. Italian “gazzetta” < “gazeta de la novità” =a halfpennyworth of news: “gazata”=a coin.
gecko: Nocturnal and vocal lizard with sticky pads on the feet to help climbing. Malay “gekoq”=imitation of the sound it makes.
geek: Expert in a technical field, particularly computers (1984). From regional English “geck”=foolish or worthless.
geese: Plural of goose; duck-like bird but larger and with longer neck. Old English “gos” < Old Germanic *”gans” < Indo-European *”ghans.”
gel: Sticky substance added to hair to firm and control. Short “gelatin” < Italian “gelata”=jelly < Latin “gelare”=to freeze < “gelu”=frost.
gelid: Icy, extremely cold. Latin “gelidus”=icy cold < “gelus”=frost.
gene: Part of a cell that contains info about how a living thing will grow. German “Pangen” < Greek “all” + “genos”=race, offspring.
genesis: First book of the Bible; the origin of something. Latin “genesis”=birth, destiny < Greek “genesis”=origin, creation.
genethliacon: A poem written for someone’s birthday. Greek “genethlios”=belonging to one’s birth < “genethli”=birth, race, stock.
genocide: Deliberate murder of a group or race of people. Greek “genus”=group, kind + “-cide”=Latin suffix “-cidium”=killing, cutting.
genteel: Polite, gentle, or graceful. Old French “gentil”=gentle < Latin “gentilis”=of the same race < “gens”=race or family.
georgic: A framer; one who works on the land. Latin “georgicus” < Greek “georgos”=husbandman < “geo-“=earth + “ergos”=work.
geotag: Metadata that assigns a geographical location to a digital file. Greek “geo”=or the earth + Middle English “tagg”=hanging rag.
germinate: To put forth shoots; to sprout and grow. From Latin “germinare”=to sprout < “germen”=a sprout.
ghastly: Causing fear and distress. Middle English “gast(e)lich(e)” < Old English “gasten”=to frighten + “-lic”=adjective-forming suffix.
ghost: Spirit of a dead person that some people think they can see. From Old English “gast”=the soul or spirit of a person.
ghoul: In Muslim legend an evil being that robs graves and eats corpses. From Arabic “ghul”=mythical grave plunderer.
gibe (or jibe): A sneering, mocking comment. From verb “gibe”=to speak mockingly, to taunt < possibly Old French “giber”=to shake.
gig: Live performance by musicians. Unknown origin. Perhaps French “gigue”=dance or ball, hence “playing at a dance of ball.”
gigantic: Of very great size; huge, enormous. Middle English “geant”=giant < Latin “gigas” < Greek “gigas”= giants – mythical huge gods.
gild: To cover with a thin layer of gold. Old English “gyldan” < Old Germanic “*gultho”=yellow.
ginger: Root with strong hot taste used in cooking. Latin “gingibar” < Greek “zingiberis” < Sanskrit “cmgavera” < “cmga”=horn + “vera”=body
gizzard: Part of a bird’s stomach that grinds food. Old French “gezier” < Latin “gigeria”=the cooked entrails of a bird.
glaive: c13th name for a sword (earlier a spear). Old French “gleive”=lance < Latin “gladius”=sword.
glamor: Charm; beauty; enchantment, magic. C18th Scottish corruption of Old French “gramaire”=occult science < Greek “gramma”=letter.
glare: To look fixedly on (c17th). Originally to shine brilliantly (c13th). From Middle English “glaren”=to gleam, shine.
glaze: Cover/coat food (or something) with a smooth, shiny layer. Middle English “glasen” < Old English “glaes”=glass.
glee: Musical style of unaccompanied song. From Old English “gliu”=mirth/jest. Old English entertainer was a “gleuman.”
glib: Artfully persuasive in speech. From 15th century meaning “smooth /slippy” < Middle Low German “gibberich”=slippery
gloaming: Dusk or twilight. Old English “glom”=twilight. Related to Old English “glowan”=to glow.
globe: Round object, often with a map of the world on it. Latin “globus”=spherical mass: related to “gleba”=lump of soil.
glockenspiel: Musical instrument with small metal bars that are struck with a hammer. German “glocke”=bell + “spielen”=to play.
glorious: Deserving or having great fame; impressive or wonderful. Old French “glorieus” < Latin “gloria”=honor or ambition.
glossolalia: Phenomena of apparently speaking in an unknown language. Greek “glossa”=tongue, language + “lalia”=speaking.
glower: Look at with a fixed gaze, usually angrily. Obscure origin ? Old English “glowan”=to glow c.f Danish “glo”=to stare.
glurge: sentimental, mawkish or uplifting story that uses fabricated facts. Maybe a portmanteau of “gulp”+”purge” – the reaction to glurge!
gluttonous: Excessively greedy, usually in the sense of food. Old French “gluton”=one who eats excessively < Latin “glutire”=to swallow.
gluttony: Habitual greed or excessive eating. Old French “glutonie” < “gluton”=one who eats to excess < Latin “glutare”=to gulp down.
gneiss: Laminated metamorphic rock. German “gneiss” < Old High German “gneisto”=spark (from the shine of the rock).
gnome: Mythical underground spirit that guards treasure; dwarf, goblin. Latin “gnomus”=?earth dweller. Probably invented by Paracelsus.
gnome: Short saying about a general truth; aphorism, proverb, or maxim. Greek “gnomi”=thought, opinion, related to “gignoskein”=know.
goal: End point in a race, both physically and metaphorically. Obscure origin, possibly Old English “gal”=goal or even Celtic “gasla”=stone
gobemouche: A credulous person who believes anything. French “gobe-mouche”=flycatcher bird or plant) < “gober”=to swallow + “mouche”=fly.
goblin: Ugly mischievous sprite that is sometimes evil and malicious. From Medieval Latin “gobelinus” < Greek “kobalos” rogue.
godemiche: A penis-shaped sex toy. French “godemiché” < Possibly from Latin “gaude mihi”=delight me.
goety: Witchcraft performed by using evil spirits. Greek “gonteia”=sorcerer, wizard < “goaein”=to wail, cry (i.e. call up a spirit).
goitre: A swelling of the neck from an enlarged thyroid gland. French “goitreux” < Old French “goitron”=gullet < Latin “guttur”=throat.
gold: Soft yellow precious metal. Old English “gold” < Germanic *”gultho”=gold < Indo-European *”ghel”=yellow.
gold-brick: To have an easy time; to shirk. US Slang. From swindle of selling a fake gold bar. From Old English “gold” + Old French “briche.”
golem: In Jewish mythology a figure molded from clay and brought to life by magic. Yiddish “goylem” < Hebrew “golem”=shapeless mass.
golf: Game where someone use a club to hit a ball into small holes in large fields. Possible from Dutch “kolf”=club < Old Norse “kolfr”=club
gong: Piece of hanging metal that plays a note when hit. Malay “gong, gung” = imitative of the sound it makes.
goniometry: The measure of angles. French “goniomètre” < Greek “gonia”=angle + “metron”=measure.
Google: Company name of an internet search engine, derived from “googol,” alluding to the amount of net-based data. Often used as a verb.
googol: Ten to the power 100. From 1940, allegedly invented by Milton Sirotta, the 9-year-old nephew of mathematician Dr. Edward Kasner.
goose: Large waterbird with a long neck, short legs, webbed feet, and a short bill. Old English “gos” < Old Germanic *”gans.”
gopher: N. American burrowing rodent with fur-lined pouches on its cheeks. French “gaufre”=honeycomb – like its nest.
gordita: Thick round cake of fried masa dough. Mexican Spanish “gordita”=little fat one < “gordo”=fat < Latin “gurdus”=blockhead.
gorge: To eat a large amount greedily. Old French “gorger” < “gorge”=throat < ?Latin “gurges”=whirlpool.
gorilla: Very large African ape. Greek “gorillas” < alleged African name for a wild or hairy man.
gormless: Foolish; lacking in attention. Old Norse “gaum”=care, attention, heed + Old English “leas”=free from, without.
gorrel: A person with a fat belly. C14th word from Old French “gorel, gorreau”=a pig or hog.
Gorsedd: Meeting of council of Welsh or Celtic bards or druids. Welsh “gorsedd”=mound, throne, or assembly.
gospel: The record and/or teachings of Jesus Christ. Old English “godspel”=good news < “god”=good + “spel”=news or story.
goulash: A Hungarian stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika. Hungarian “gulyas-hus” < “gulyas”=herdsman + “hus”=meat.
gourd: Fleshy fruit whose thick skin can be used as a container. Old French “gourde” < Latin “cucurbita”=gourd, container.
gourmet: Connoisseur of food and drink. From Old French “gromet”=wine seller’s assistant.
graduation: The act of conferring an academic degree. Latin “graduare”=to admit to a university degree < “gradus”=a step.
graithness: Condition of readiness or promptness. Middle English “greith” < Old Norse “greith” = ready + Old English “-ness”=noun suffix.
grammar: Rules by which words change their forms and are combined in sentences. Greek “grammatike”=art of letters < “gramma”=letter, mark.
gratuitous: Without cause; free. From Latin “gratuitus”=free, voluntary < “gratia”=favor.
grave: A place of burial in the ground. Old English “graf” < “grafen”=to dig < Old Germanic “*grab-”
gravity: Extreme importance; force that makes objects fall to the ground. Old French “gravite”=seriousness < Latin “gravitas”=heavy.
grease: The melted or rendered fat of animals. Middle English “grese” < Old French “graisse” < Latin “crassus”=fat.
great: Very large in amount or degree. Old English “great”=big, coarse, thick < Germanic “*grauto-” < pre-Germanic “*ghroudo-”
greed: Inordinate longing, esp. for wealth. Back-formation of “greedy” < Old English “graedig.” Related to Sanskirt “grdh”=to be greedy
greedy: Intense/selfish desire for something. Old English “graedig”=hunger < ?Old Teutonic “*gredago.” Related to Sanksrit “grdh”=be greedy.
gremial: Of, or pertaining to, the bosom. Latin “gremialis” < “gremium” < bosom or lap.
grey/gray: Shade of black mixed with white. Old English “grǣg” < Germanic “græ̂wo”=gray/grey.
gricer: A train spotter or railway enthusiast. Probably a humorous modification of “grouser”=one who shoots (spots) grouse.
griddle: Flat iron plate used to cook food. Old French “gredil” < Latin “craticula”=diminutive of “cratis”=a grate i.e a little grate.
griffin/gryphon: Mythical beast with eagles head/wings, and lion’s body. Latin “gryphus” < Greek “gripos”=hooked, curved (like claws).
grimace: Contort the face to indicate a certain mental or emotional state. Uncertain origin, poss. Old English “grima”=a spectre.
grimoire: a book of magical spells, including demon summoning. From Gk. “grammatikos”=pertaining to letter. And yes, same root as “grammar.”
gringo: foreigner in South America; pejorative for US Americans. Origin Latin “Graecus” to Spanish “griego”=Greek, which means “foreigner.”
griph: A puzzling question; a riddle. Latin “griphus” < Greek “grifos”=a fishing basket, dark saying, or riddle.
grisly: Causing horror and disgust. Old English “grislic” < unattested “*grisan”=”I fear” or “I tremble.”
grison: Weasel-like carnivore from Central America and South America with greyish-white back and dark belly. French “grison” < “gris”=gray.
grob: C17th word meaning to grope or grasp. Old English “grapian” < ?Old Teutonic “*graipojan”=to grasp.
grocer: Someone who sells vegetables and fruit. From Latin “grossarius”=one who sells by the gross (large quantities).
grog: Rum mixed with water. Possibly from “Old Grog,” nickname of Admiral Vernon who wore a grogram coat and order regular grog in 1740.
grogram: Coarse fabric of silk, of mohair and wool, stiffened by gum. French “gros gran”=large or coarse grain.
ground: Lowest part or downward limit of anything. From Old English “grund”=bottom or foundation.
group: A collection of objects regarded as a unit. From Italian “gruppo”=cluster or knot. Originally (1686) used for Art designs
groyne: Barrier (often wood) on a beach to prevent erosion. Old French “groign”=snout < Latin “grunium”-pig’s nose < “grunnire”=to grunt.
gruff: Rude, coarse, given to impolite speech. Middle High German “grop”=rough or perhaps Old English “hreof”=harsh, scabby.
grumpy: Bad-tempered, sulky. From “grump”=ill-humor < ?”grunt”=low gruff sound made by pigs < Old English “grunnettan”=to grunt.
G-string: Native American loincloth (1878) that covers the genitals and is attached by string. Possible “G”=groin, a taboo word then.
guacamole: Cold Mexican dish made from avocado, onions, chili, and tomatoes. Nahuatl “ahuacamolli” < “ahuacatl”=avocado + “molli”=paste.
guerrilla: Member of a small unofficial military group typically fighting against a government. Diminutive Spanish “guerra”=war.
guess: An estimate without sufficient information to be sure of being correct. Middle English “gessen” < Old Norse “geta”=to get.
guile: Cunning deceit; sly treachery. Middle English “gile” < Old French “guile” < ? Old Norse “vel”=craftiness or artifice.
guilty: Having committed an offense or crime. Old Englisg “gylt”=crime, fault, sin.
guitar: 6-/12-stringed instrument with fretted fingerboard. Spanish “guitarra” < Latin “cithara” < Greek “kithara”=type of lyre.
gumbo: Louisiana stew or soup, made from a stock, thickened by okra, and served with rice. From Bantu “ngombo”=okra.
guttersnipe: From 1860’s – outcast child in the gutters (streets). From Latin “gutta”=drop (water) + Old Norse “snipa”=marsh bird.
guzzle: To swallow greedily or excessively. ?Old French “gosiller”=to vomit or chatter, related to “gosier”=throat < Latin “geusiae”=cheeks
gymnastics: Exercises to develop or display physical skill. Latin “gymnaticus” < Greek “gymnazein”=to train naked < “gymnos”=naked.
gymnologize: To argue or debate while naked. Latin “gymnologizare” < Greek “gymnos”=naked + “logos”=speech.
gyrate: To move in a circle or spiral; to revolve. Latin “gyrare”=to turn or whirl around < Greek “giros”=ring or circle.