• gigolo •
Pronunciation: jig-ê-lo • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A professional male dancing partner. 2. A womanizer, an insincere suitor. 3. A kept man, a man whose expenses are paid for by a woman in return for his attentions, a toy boy, a fancy man, the masculine correlate of bimbo.
Notes: The meaning of today's Good Word has wandered off center in the US, where it is often heard referring to an unfaithful man who fiddles around with many women. This sense may have rubbed off the reputation of professional dancing partners. As the Word History will show, it has recently developed two more specific meanings. The plural is gigolos, and there are no other related forms.
In Play: Some women think that if bimbos are good for the gander, gigolos are no worse for the goose: "Her accountant convinced Gladys Boise that, over her lifetime, gigolos would be less expensive than a husband. She took his advice." The dangers of gigolos cannot be overstated, however, "That new bimbo of Phil Anders ran off with his wife's gigolo after the four of them accidentally bumped into each other at the beach."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from France, apparently from the verb giguer "to do a jig", a verb from the noun gigue "jig". The feminine noun corresponding to gigolo is gigolette "a dancing girl, a floozy, strumpet", not far removed from the masculine. The noun gigue started its life in French meaning "fiddle", apparently borrowed from a Germanic language, since the word for "fiddle: today in German is die Geige. However, in French, the noun also became, gigot "leg of lamb", which looks like a fiddle and tastes as good as the music of a violin sounds. (Today's word came from a multilingual discussion in the Agora started by Katy Brezger, who never fiddles around with good words.)