Printable Version
Pronunciation: gæn-dêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A male goose. 2. A look, glance. 3. (Derogatory) A simpleton, a nincompoop, a gobemouche, gongoozler.

Notes: Here is a word whose first and second meanings seem to be unrelated at first gander. Gander may also be used as a verb meaning "to rubber-neck, to crane your neck like a gander". When people stretch their necks, it is often to get a better look at something, hence the second sense of this word.

In Play: take a gander at thatAll English speakers have at one time or another used the common bit of English folk wisdom, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." This is a colloquial way of saying, "All men are created equal", while clarifying the ambiguity in the generic men. The other sense of gander is idiomatically used with the verb take: "Check out the websites of the NFL teams and take a gander their promotion of the cheerleaders."

Word History: Gander seems to be an original English word from Proto-Germanic gan(d)ron, inherited from PIE ghans- "goose", pretty much the same as Modern German Gans "goose". Russian gus' comes from Proto-Slavic gõs, where the [õ] represents a nasalized [o]. The PIE word has been preserved in a host of Indo-European languages, western and eastern: Spanish ganso, Latvian zoss (Z is a natural reflex of G: [g] > [ž] > [z]), Lithuanian žąsìs, Swedish gås, Urdu hans, Farsi (Persian) qaz, and Hindi ghused. (Thanks to Joakim Larsson for sharing today's Good Word with us after spotting the merit in it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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