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This word has given rise to a host of guesses:—

Railey suggests garrula, a chatterbox.

Minshew ventures the Italian girella, a weather-cock.

Skinner goes in for the Anglo-Saxon ceorl, a churl.

Why not girdle, as young women before marriage wore a girdle [girʹle]; and part of a Roman marriage ceremony was for the bridegroom to loose the zone.


As for guessing, the word gull may put in a claim (1 Henry iv. 1); so may the Greek kourē, a girl, with a diminutive suffix koure-la, whence gourla, gourl, gurl, girl.

(The Latin gerula means a maid that attends on a child. Chaucer spells the word gurl.)

Probably the word is a variation of darling, Anglo-Saxon, deorling.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Gipsy (g soft)
Gipsy (The)
Giralda (g soft)
Gird up the Loins (To)
Girder (A)
Girdle (g hard)
Girdle (Florimel’s)
Girdle (St. Colman’s)
Girdle of Venus
Girondists (g soft)
Gis (g soft)
Give and Take (policy)
Give it Him (To)
Give the Boys a Holiday
Give the Devil his Due