Printable Version
Pronunciation: gee-zêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A colloquial, humorous though slightly derogatory term for (a usually old) "man".

Notes: An 'old geezer' may be used humorously or derogatorily, as a slight insult. Apparently it has generated no family, though we can easily imagine an adjective, geezerly, and an abstract noun, geezerhood.

In Play: Here is an example of using the word as a tender jab: "That geezer mixes up his grandchildren all the time." However, you may use it as a head-on insult: "That old geezer doesn't know his left foot from his right!" Geezerhood, as I can testify, is not for sissies.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a Cockney variation of guiser "mummer, masquerader", a person who looks odd or acts eccentrically. This word was in Middle English gysar, from gysen "to dress", from gyse "guise, fashion", borrowed from Old French guise "manner, fashion". French borrowed this word from Old High German wisa "manner, -wise". Now, here is where it gets interesting. Since Old French had no [w] sound, it used the closest sound to it, QU, pronounced [kw]. The word, now guise, was borrowed back into English, a Germanic language, as guise with a different meaning. The same Proto-Germanic word that produced wisa gave us English wise and wit. It goes back to the PIE word that turned up in Russian videt' "to see", as in do svidaniya "until we meet (again)" and Latin videre "to see", which underlies many English borrowings such as vision, video, and view. (Yet another 'thank-you' to Jacqueline Kravitz Strauss for recommending today's back-and-forth borrowed Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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