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Etymology 1

From Old English ġealla, from Proto-Germanic *gallom. Cognate with Dutch gal, German Galle, Swedish galle, galla. There may also be influence from Old English geolu (yellow).




gall (s)
  1. (anatomy, Template loop detected: Template:context 1) Bile, especially that of an animal; the greenish, profoundly bitter-tasting fluid found in bile ducts and gall bladders, structures associated with the liver.
  2. (anatomy) The gall bladder.
  3. (uncountable, Template loop detected: Template:context 1) Great misery or physical suffering, likened to the bitterest-tasting of substances.
  4. (countable) A bump-like imperfection resembling a gall.
    • 1653, Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler, Chapter 21
      But first for your Line. First note, that you are to take care that your hair be round and clear, and free from galls, or scabs, or frets: for a well- chosen, even, clear, round hair, of a kind of glass-colour, will prove as strong as three uneven scabby hairs that are ill-chosen, and full of galls or unevenness. You shall seldom find a black hair but it is round, but many white are flat and uneven; therefore, if you get a lock of right, round, clear, glass-colour hair, make much of it.
  5. (uncountable) A feeling of exasperation.
  6. (uncountable) Impudence or brazenness; temerity, chutzpah.
    • 1917, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Oakdale Affair, Chapter 6
      “Durn ye!” he cried. “I’ll lam ye! Get offen here. I knows ye. Yer one o’ that gang o’ bums that come here last night, an’ now you got the gall to come back beggin’ for food, eh? I’ll lam ye!” and he raised the gun to his shoulder.
  7. (medicine, Template loop detected: Template:context 1) A sore or open wound caused by chafing, which may become infected, as with a blister.
    • 1892, Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”, Leaves of Grass
      And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness, / And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;
  8. (countable) A sore on a horse caused by an ill-fitted or ill-adjusted saddle; a saddle sore.
  9. (countable) A pit caused on a surface being cut caused by the friction between the two surfaces exceeding the bond of the material at a point.
Derived terms


to gall

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to gall (third-person singular simple present -, present participle -, simple past and past participle -)
  1. (transitive) To trouble or bother.
  2. To harass, to harry, often with the intent to cause injury.
    • June 24, 1778, George Washington, The Writings of George Washington From the Original Manuscript Sources: Volume 12, 1745–1799
      The disposition for these detachments is as follows – Morgans corps, to gain the enemy’s right flank; Maxwells brigade to hang on their left. Brigadier Genl. Scott is now marching with a very respectable detachment destined to gall the enemys left flank and rear.
  3. To chafe, to rub or subject to friction; to create a sore on the skin.
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
      …he went awkwardly in these clothes at first: wearing the drawers was very awkward to him, and the sleeves of the waistcoat galled his shoulders and the inside of his arms; but a little easing them where he complained they hurt him, and using himself to them, he took to them at length very well.
  4. To exasperate.
    • 1979, Mark Bowden, “Captivity Pageant”, The Atlantic, Volume 296, No. 5, pp. 92-97, December, 1979
      Metrinko was hungry, but he was galled by how self-congratulatory his captors seemed, how generous and noble and proudly Islamic.
  5. To cause pitting on a surface being cut from the friction between the two surfaces exceeding the bond of the material at a point.
    Improper cooling and a dull milling blade on titanium can gall the surface
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Etymology 2

From French galle, from [[w:Template:lang:la language|Template:lang:la]][[Category:Template:lang:la derivations]] galla (oak-apple).




gall ({{{1}}})
  1. (countable) A blister or tumor-like growth found on the surface of plants, caused by burrowing of insect larvae into the living tissues, especially that of the common oak gall wasp (Cynips quercusfolii).
    • 1974, Philip P. Wiener (ed.), Dictionary of the History of Ideas
      Even so, Redi retained a belief that in certain other cases—the origin of parasites inside the human or animal body or of grubs inside of oak galls—there must be spontaneous generation. Bit by bit the evidence grew against such views. In 1670 Jan Swammerdam, painstaking student of the insect’s life cycle, suggested that the grubs in galls were enclosed in them for the sake of nourishment and must come from insects that had inserted their semen or their eggs into the plants.



From [[w:Template:lang:la language|Template:lang:la]][[Category:ca:Template:lang:la derivations]] gallus.


gall m.

  1. rooster, cock

Scottish Gaelic


From Irish Gall (a stranger, Englishman), Early Irish gall (foreigner); from Gallus (a Gaul), the Gauls being the first strangers to visit or be visited by the Irish in Pre-Roman and Roman times (Zimmer). For derivation see gal (valour). Stokes takes a different view; he gives as basis for gall, stranger, Proto-Indo-European *gallo-s, Welsh gal (enemy, foe), Proto-Indo-European *ghaslo-?, root *ghas, Latin hostis, English guest. Hence he derives Gallus, a Gaul, so named from some Celtic dialect.

EB1911A-pict1.png This entry lacks an etymology. If you are familiar with the origin of this word, please add it to the page as described here.
Particularly: “what is ‘Early’ Irish? mga or sga? What is Zimmer? is it Indo-European?”


gall m., gen/pl goill

  1. stranger
  2. foreigner


An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language, Alexander MacBain, Gairm Publications, 1982

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