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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — gallant

September 08, 2012

Word of the Day

  • gallant
  • audio pronunciation
  • \GAL-unt\


: showy in dress or bearing : smart
a : splendid, stately b : spirited, brave c : nobly chivalrous and often self-sacrificing
: courteously and elaborately attentive especially to ladies

The climbers made a gallant attempt but failed to reach the summit of the great mountain.

"Every year, crowds massed to watch a vivid reenactment of the 1777 Battle of Germantown, George Washington's gallant but failed attack on British troops holed up at Cliveden." — From an article by Stephan Salisbury in The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 3, 2012


In the late 14th century, Middle English adopted "galaunt" (now spelled "gallant") from Middle French "galant," a participial form of the verb "galer," meaning "to have a good time." This origin is more apparent in the earliest uses of the English "gallant," both as a noun meaning "a man of fashion" and as an adjective meaning "marked by show, color, smartness, or splendor especially in dress." French "galer" is related to "gale" ("pleasure, merrymaking") which has also entered the language, by way of Italian, as "gala" ("a festive celebration"). Middle English also had a noun "gale" which meant "singing, merriment, or mirth" (and is unrelated to the "gale" used to indicate a strong current of air) which may also have been related to Old French "gale."

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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