January 26, 2012
gargoyle (noun)
\GAHR-goyl\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a waterspout in the form of a strange or frightening human or animal figure sticking out at the roof or eaves of a building
How do you use it?
After seeing some of the imaginative gargoyles on medieval churches, Adam has a greater respect for the artisans of the Middle Ages.
Are you a word wiz?

The first thing we think about when someone mentions the word "gargoyle" is how scary or funny or just plain weird these figures look. However, the root of "gargoyle" has nothing to do with looks. What do you think inspired the name of these bizarre creations?

"Gargoyle" came into English in the 13th century, at a time when many of the churches that were being built all over Europe displayed these strange creatures as part of their design. The rainwater that came through their throats and out of their mouths probably made a gargling sound along the way. The parent word of "gargoyle" is the French noun "gargouille," akin to the verb "gargouiller," a word whose sound was intended to imitate that of liquid in the throat kept in motion by air from the lungs. It's not surprising that "gargouiller" is also the source of the English word "gargle."
Archive RSS Feed