Page 1 of 1


Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 1:28 pm
by Dr. Goodword
• gambol •

Pronunciation: gæm-bêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Intransitive verb

Meaning: To leap or jump about joyfully, to frolic playfully.

Notes: It is difficult to understand why a word this beautiful in sound and sense can fade from a language but today's lovely word is, indeed, fading fast. This is Alpha Dictionary's attempt to keep it gamboling along. We no longer double the [l] when adding suffixes like –ed (gamboled), –ing (gamboling), and –er (gamboler) in the US but doubling is still acceptable and encountered more widely in Britain.

In Play: Gamboling is certainly more the prerogative of the young than their more staid and mature elders: "Claxton loved to watch his grandchildren gamboling in the backyard on the weekends." But gamboling adults are not unheard of by any means, "Gamboling crowds jammed traffic for hours after the home team won the championship."

Word History: Today's word is an adaptation of French gambade "skipping or frisking about" from Italian gambata "kick". This noun is based on gamba "leg", the Late Latin word for "hoof". It is also the origin of the English slang term gam "leg" and is a close relation of the French jambe "leg". The ending -ade apparently was confused with the then more frequently used –auld, which eventually lost its [d], resulting in gambol rather than gambade. (No, gamble is unrelated; it comes from game—better to gambol than gamble in Las Vegas.)

Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 10:07 pm
by KatyBr
Ah, but the question remains, do the grandchildren gambol wantonly? frivolously, or possibly with abandon?


Posted: Tue May 03, 2005 10:26 pm
by tcward
Not to trivialize Katy's question, but I was wondering if there be a relationship between gambol and gallop...


Posted: Wed May 04, 2005 10:06 pm
by gailr
According to etymonline:
1523, from M.Fr. galoper, from O.Fr. galop (11c.), cognate of O.N.Fr. waloper, from Frank. *wala hlaupan "to run well" (see wallop).