• gallivant •
gæl-ê-vænt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive
Meaning: (Colloquial) 1. To extensively travel about without care or concern. 2. To travel about showily in search of fun and pleasure.
Notes: Today's moderately humorous Good Word is particularly popular in the US South, but is familiar in most dialect areas of English. Its derivations are the expectable ones: gallivanting is the adjective and activity noun, while gallivanter is someone who gallivants a lot.
In Play: Today's Good Word is probably used most widely to simply refer to travel that is wasted time: "Where have you been gallivanting? I've been waiting here for an hour!" However, there is an overtone of contempt that may be associated with today's Good Word: "Portia Carr has been gallivanting all over town like the Queen of Sheba in that new convertible her boyfriend gave her!"
Word History: The origin of today's Good Word is cloaked in mystery. It is spoken more than written due to its slangy cast, so it has no paper trail to follow. A good guess would be that it originated as a mispronunciation of the phrase "to gad about", since its meaning is almost identical to this phrase. This phrase might have been confused with the word gallant, since there is an intimation of traveling to show off bound up in gallivant. However, all this is mere speculation. (Dr. Goodword is particularly grateful to Ralph B. Mowery for not gallivanting elsewhere with today's Good Word; it was one of the favorites of Dr. Goodword's mother, Kathleen Bullard Beard.)
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