- gofer (n.2)
- "errand-runner," 1956, American English coinage from verbal phrase go for (coffee, spare parts, etc.), with a pun on gopher.
- gofer (n.1)
- "thin cake or waffle with a honeycomb pattern," 1769, from French gaufre, literally "honeycomb" (see wafer (n.)).
- goggle (v.)
- 1530s, from Middle English gogelen "to roll (the eyes) about" (late 14c.), influenced by Middle English gogel-eyed "squint-eyed," also, due to being used incorrectly in a translation from Latin, "one-eyed" (late 14c.), of uncertain origin. It has been suggested that it is a frequentative verb from Celtic (compare Irish and Gaelic gog "a nod, a slight motion," Irish gogaim "I nod, gesticulate," but some consider these to be from English. Perhaps somehow imitative. As a surname (Robert le Gogel) from c.1300. Related: Goggled; goggling. As a noun, 1650s, "goggling look;" earlier "person who goggles" (1610s).
- goggle-eyed (adj.)
- late 14c.; see goggle (v.).
- goggles (n.)
- "spectacles, protective eyeglasses," 1715; see goggle.
- Goidelic (adj.)
- "pertaining to the branch of Celtic languages that includes Irish, Gaelic, and Manx," 1882, coined by Sir John Rhys (and first used in his "Celtic Britain"), from Old Irish Goidel "Gael" (see Gael).
- going (n.)
- "a moving" in any way, c.1300, verbal noun from go (v.). Going to "be about to" is from late 15c. To go while the going is good is from 1916. Goings-on attested from 1775; going-over (n.) is 1872 as "scolding," 1919 as "inspection." The Old English verbal noun was gang "a going, journey; passage, course" (see gang (n.)).
- goiter (n.)
- "morbid enlargement of the thyroid gland," 1620s, from French goitre (16c.), from Rhône dialect, from Old Provençal goitron "throat, gullet," from Vulgar Latin *gutturiosum or *gutturionem, from Latin guttur "throat" (see guttural). Related: Goitrous.
- goitre (n.)
- alternative spelling of goiter.
- gold (n.)
- "precious metal noted for its color, luster, malleability, and freedom from rust or tarnish," Old English gold, from Proto-Germanic *ghl-to- (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German gold, German Gold, Middle Dutch gout, Dutch goud, Old Norse gull, Danish guld, Gothic gulþ), from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives referring to bright materials, yellow colors, bile, and gold (compare Old Church Slavonic zlato, Russian zoloto, Sanskrit hiranyam, Old Persian daraniya-, Avestan zaranya- "gold;" see glass (n.)). Finnish kulta is from German; Hungarian izlot is from Slavic.
As an adjective from c.1200 (compare golden). In reference to the color of the metal, it is recorded from c.1400. Gold rush is attested from 1859, originally in an Australian context. Gold medal as first prize in a contest is from 1908.
- gold-digger (n.)
- 1830, "one who seeks gold in the ground or a stream bed," from gold (n.) + digger. As "woman who pursues men for their money," first recorded 1915.
- gold-dust (n.)
- 1703, from gold (n.) + dust (n.).
- gold-leaf (n.)
- 1727, from gold (n.) + leaf (n.).
- gold-mine (n.)
- late 15c., "place where gold is dug out of the earth," from gold (n.) + mine (n.). Figurative use "anything productive of great wealth" is by 1882.
- goldbrick (n.)
- "shirker," 1914, World War I armed forces slang, from earlier verb meaning "to swindle, cheat" (1902) from the old con game of selling spurious "gold" bricks (attested by 1882).
- golden (adj.)
- c.1300, "made of gold," from gold + -en (2); replacing Middle English gilden, from Old English gyldan. Gold is one of the few Modern English nouns that form adjectives meaning "made of ______" by adding -en (as in wooden, leaden, waxen, olden); those that survive often do so in specialized senses. Old English also had silfren "made of silver," stænen "made of stone," etc.
From late 14c. as "of the color of gold." Figurative sense of "excellent, precious, best, most valuable" is from late 14c.; that of "favorable, auspicious" is from c.1600. Golden mean "avoidance of excess" translates Latin aurea mediocritas (Horace). Golden age "period of past perfection" is from 1550s, from a concept found in Greek and Latin writers; in sense of "old age" it is recorded from 1961. The moralistic golden rule earlier was the golden law (1670s).
Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them [Matt. vii:12]
Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same. [George Bernard Shaw, 1898]
- goldenrod (n.)
- 1560s, from golden + rod (n.). So called for its yellow heads.
- goldfinch (n.)
- Old English goldfinc; see gold (adj.) + finch. So called for its yellow wing markings. Compare German Goldfink.
- goldfish (n.)
- 1690s, from gold (adj.) + fish (n.). The fish were introduced into England from China, where they are native. A type of carp, they are naturally a dull olive color; the rich colors (also red, black, silver) are obtained by selective breeding. Goldfish bowl, figurative of a situation of no privacy, was in use by 1935.
- Goldilocks (n.)
- name for a person with bright yellow hair, 1540s, from goldy (adj.) "of a golden color" (mid-15c., from gold (n.)) + plural of lock (n.2). The story of the Three Bears first was printed in Robert Southey's miscellany "The Doctor" (1837), but the central figure there was a bad-tempered old woman. Southey did not claim to have invented the story, and older versions have been traced, either involving an old woman or a "silver-haired" girl (though in at least one version it is a fox who enters the house). The identification of the girl as Goldilocks is attested from c.1875. Goldylocks also is attested from 1570s as a name for the buttercup.
- goldsmith (n.)
- "artisan who works in gold," Old English goldsmið, from gold (n.) + smith (n.). Similar formation in Dutch goudsmid, German Goldschmeid, Danish guldsmed.
- Goldwynism (n.)
- 1937, in reference to the many humorous malaprop remarks credited to U.S. film producer Samuel G. Goldwyn (1882-1974); the best-known, arguably, being "include me out." Goldwyn is perhaps less popular as the originator of such phrases in American English than baseball player Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (b.1925), but there doesn't seem to be a noun form based on Berra's name in popular use. The surname typically is Old English goldwyn, literally "gold-friend."
- golem (n.)
- "artificial man, automaton," 1897, from Hebrew golem [Psalm cxxxix:16] "shapeless mass, embryo," from galam "he wrapped up, folded."
- golf (n.)
- mid-15c., Scottish gouf, usually taken as an alteration of Middle Dutch colf, colve "stick, club, bat," from Proto-Germanic *kulth- (cognates: Old Norse kolfr "clapper of a bell," German Kolben "mace, club, butt-end of a gun"). The game is from 14c., the word is first mentioned (along with fut-bol) in a 1457 Scottish statute on forbidden games. Despite what you read on the Internet, "golf" is not an acronym. Golf ball attested from 1540s. Golf widow is from 1890.
Oh! who a golfer's bride would be,
Fast mated with a laddie
Who every day goes out to tee
And with him takes the caddie.
["The Golf Widow's Lament," in "Golf," Oct. 31, 1890]
- golf (v.)
- c.1800, from golf (n.). Related: Golfed; golfing.
- golfer (n.)
- early 15c., agent noun from golf.
- hill near Jerusalem, via Latin and Greek, from Aramaic gulgulta, literally "(place of the) skull," cognate with Hebrew gulgoleth "skull." The hill so called in reference to its shape (see Calvary).
- Late Latin Goliath, from Hebrew Golyath, name of the Philistine giant slain by David [I Sam. xvii].
- golliwog (n.)
- "grotesque blackface doll," 1895, coined by English children's book author and illustrator Florence K. Upton (1873-1922), perhaps from golly + polliwog.
- euphemism for God, first recorded 1775, in a source that refers to it as "a sort of jolly kind of oath, or asseveration much in use among our carters, & the lowest people."
- Biblical site, from Hebrew 'omer "sheaf" (of corn, etc.), probably a reference to the fertility of the region.
- gonad (n.)
- 1880, from Modern Latin gonas (plural gonades), coined from Greek gone, gonos "child; seed, act of generation, race, family," related to gignesthai "be born," genos "race, birth, descent," from PIE *gon-o-, suffixed form of root *gen- "to give birth, beget" (see genus). Related: gonads.
- gondola (n.)
- 1540s, from Italian (Venetian) gondola, earlier in English as goundel, from Old Italian gondula, of unknown origin; according to Barnhart, perhaps a diminutive of gonda, a name of a kind of boat. Meaning "cabin of an airship" is from 1896, though it was used hypothetically in 1881 in a futurism piece titled "300 Years Hence":
You step into an aerial gondola ... and are at once borne upwards.
- gondolier (n.)
- c.1600, from French gondolier and directly from Italian gondoliere, from gondola (see gondola).
- name of a region in north central India, from Sanskrit gondavana, from vana "forest" + Gonda, name of a Dravidian people, literally "fleshy navel, outie belly-button." The name was extended by geologists to a series of sedimentary rocks found there (1873), then to identical rocks in other places; because the fossils found in this series were used by geologists to reconstruct the ancient southern supercontinent, which therefore was called Gondwanaland (1896), from German, where it was coined by German geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914) in 1885.
- past participle of go.
- goner (n.)
- "something dead or about to die, person past recovery, one who is done for in any way," 1850, from gone + -er (1). From earlier expressions such as gone goose (1830), gone coon, etc.
- 1590s, variant of Middle English gonfanon (c.1300), from Old French gonfanon "knight's pennon" (12c.), from Old High German guntfano "battle flag," from a Proto-Germanic compound of *gunthjo "war, battle" (from PIE *gwhen- "to strike, kill;" see bane) + *fano "banner" (compare Gothic fana "cloth;" see fane). Cognate with Old English guþfana, Old Norse gunnfani. Change of -n- to -l- by dissimilation.
- gong (n.)
- c.1600, from Malay gong, probably imitative of its sound when struck. As a verb from 1903.
- attempt to represent the casual pronunciation of going to. In Scottish dialect, ganna, gaunna recorded from 1806.
- gonorrhea (n.)
- also gonorrhoea, 1520s, from Late Latin gonorrhoia, from gonos "seed" (see gonad) + rhoe "flow," from rhein "to flow" (see rheum). Mucus discharge was mistaken for semen. In early records often Gomoria, etc., from folk etymology association with biblical Gomorrah.
- gonzo (adj.)
- 1971, American English, in Hunter S. Thompson's phrase gonzo journalism. Thompson in 1972 said he got it from editor Bill Cardosa and explained it as "some Boston word for weird, bizarre." Probably from Italian gonzo "rude, sottish," perhaps from Spanish ganso and ultimately from the Germanic word for "goose."
- goo (n.)
- 1903, American English, of obscure origin, probably a back-formation from gooey.
- goo-goo (adj.)
- "amorous," 1900, perhaps connected with goggle, because the earliest reference is in goo-goo eyes. The sense of "baby-talk" is from 1863. Use in reference to politics began 1890s, and seems to be a shortening of Good Government as a movement to clean up municipal corruption in Boston, New York, etc. It soon was extended to mean "naive political reformer."
- goober (n.)
- "peanut," 1833, American English, from an African language, perhaps Bantu (compare Kikongo and Kimbundu nguba "peanut").
- good (adj.)
- Old English god (with a long "o") "virtuous; desirable; valid; considerable," probably originally "having the right or desirable quality," from Proto-Germanic *godaz "fitting, suitable" (cognates: Old Norse goðr, Dutch goed, Old High German guot, German gut, Gothic goþs), originally "fit, adequate, belonging together," from PIE root *ghedh- "to unite, be associated, suitable" (cognates: Old Church Slavonic godu "pleasing time," Russian godnyi "fit, suitable," Old English gædrian "to gather, to take up together"). As an expression of satisfaction, from early 15c.; of children, "well-behaved," by 1690s.
Irregular comparative and superlative (better, best) reflect a widespread pattern in words for "good," as in Latin bonus, melior, optimus. Good-for-nothing is from 1711. Good looking is attested from 1780 (good looks by c.1800). Good sport, of persons, is from 1906; good to go is attested from 1989. The good book "the Bible" attested from 1801, originally in missionary literature describing the language of conversion efforts in American Indian tribes.
Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing. ["As You Like It"]
Phrase for good "finally, permanently" attested from 1711, a shortening of for good and all (16c.). Middle English had for good ne ylle (early 15c.) "for good nor ill," thus "under any circumstance."
- good (n.)
- Old English gōd "that which is good, goodness; advantage, benefit; gift; virtue; property;" from good (adj.).
- Good Friday
- late 13c., from good in Middle English sense of "holy," also especially of holy days or seasons observed by the church (early 15c.); the word also was applied to Christmas and Shrove Tuesday.
- good will
- Old English godes willan "virtuous, pious, upright," also "state of wishing well to another." One-word form goodwill (18c.) is used especially in commercial senses.
- also goodbye, good bye, good-by, 1590s, from godbwye (1570s), itself a contraction of God be with ye (late 14c.), influenced by good day, good evening, etc.