Printable Version
Pronunciation: jib-lit Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The edible parts of poultry aside from the meat, i.e. the heart, liver, gizzard, and feet. 2. Odds and ends, as a drawer holding twenty year's worth of giblets. 3. Innards in general but also courage (from French coeur "heart"), spirit, mental or spiritual capacity, as to have the giblets get the job done.

Notes: This word is used far more often in the plural than in the singular. It is otherwise a lexical orphan without family or relatives. As in most words borrowed from French or Latin, the G is pronounced [j] before the front vowel I. Words with a hard G before I were generally inherited from old Germanic: gig, gill, give—but expect exceptions.

In Play: We hear this word most often when talking about chicken, turkey, or goose giblets, usually wrapped and tucked neatly inside the bird by the butcher: "Wayland, what did you do with the giblets before you roasted the turkey?" To which Wayland replies: "Giblets?" However, in situations where slang is acceptable, it serves as a substitute for figurative guts: "None of you have the giblets to tell the boss he is wrong to fire Gladys Friday!"

Word History: Today's word is a slightly smoothed version of Old French gibelet "ragout of game" (today gibelotte) derived from gibier "wild game". French gibier originated in Frankish, an old West Germanic language. In Frankish gibaiti "falconry", was a prefixed form of the word meaning "bite" and the origin of English bite. (Gibaiti has a prefix similar to that in German Gefngnis "prison" from fangen "to catch, capture".) Another word related to bite and gebaiti is bait, the only thing many of us think giblets are good for. (Let's all show the giblets to thank Laurie Hynes for seeing the fascination in this easily overlooked Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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