Printable Version
Pronunciation: gyulz Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: The color red used mostly in heraldry and blazonry (coats of arms); poetic elsewhere.

Notes: The world of heraldry has its own vocabulary, chequy for checkered, argent for silver, dexter and sinister for right and left. Today's word comes from that world. The singular noun, gule "throat, gluttony, column neck" has long since fallen into disuse, leaving the plural form a lexical orphan.

In Play: This word is rarely used outside the world of heraldry: "The coat of arms of Croatia, chequy gules and argent, is a well-known example of red and white chequy." When used as an adjective, it is usually placed after the noun it modifies (postpositioned): "Above the mantle of the royal family's coat of arms is a pavilion gules topped with the royal crown."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Old French geule "mouth, throat", today gueule "(animal) mouth, muzzle", probably because the open mouth and throat of animals are red on coats of arms. Old French inherited its word from Latin gula "throat, gullet", which is the current word for "gluttony" in Portuguese and Spanish. The Latin word was passed down from PIE gel-/gol- "to devour", source also of Greek glossa "tongue; language", Armenian kul "swallow", English gulp, gulch and gully, German Kolk "gulley", Russian glotat' "swallow" and gorlo "throat", Czech hlt "swallow, gulp", Serbian grlo "throat", Polish gardło "throat". (Now a bow of gratitude for Wordmaster Rob Towart for finding today's Good Word in a dark niche of the English vocabulary and revealing it to us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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