• gallant •
Pronunciation: gæ-lênt, gê-lahnt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: 1. Very courteous, dashing, spirited, boldly stylish, displaying considerable dignity or nobility. 2. Unflinching, brave, courageous in battle. 3. Imposing, stately, as a gallant ship. 4. [gê-lahnt] Chivalrous, courteous, courtly, attentive to or respectful of women. 5. (Noun [gê-lahnt]) A man who is gallant in the 4th sense.
Notes: Today's word actually has three pronunciations; for lack of space [gê-lænt] was omitted. This and the second pronunciation above are reserved for the 4th and 5th senses of this word. The noun most often accompanying this adjective is gallantry "gallant behavior", while gallantness refers to all the other qualities of being gallant. You may use the adverb, gallantly, as well.
In Play: Efforts are often gallant in the second sense above: "Lilly White made a gallant effort to save her reputation, but being seen in the company of Phil Anders was too much to overcome." Phil was just too gallant for her to resist. The noun is often used in reference to a male escort: "Portia Carr comes to every club event with a different gallant in tow."
Word History: Believe it or not, today's Good Word goes back to the same Proto-Indo-European word that came to English as well. Since Old French didn't have a [w] sound, it transliterated words borrowed from German containing [w] as [gw], the nearest French sound, dropping the [w] almost immediately. Middle English then borrowed the French word as galaunt, from Old French galant, present participle of Frankish Latin galer "to rejoice". Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, French, Czech and English gala are all related to this word. (We now thank Eileen Opiolka for her gallant effort in bringing today's Good Word to our attention in the Alpha Agora.)