gad·​about ˈga-də-ˌbau̇t How to pronounce gadabout (audio)
: a person who flits about in social activity
gadabout adjective

Did you know?

If you had to pick the insect most closely related to a gadabout, you might wryly guess the "social butterfly." But there's another bug that's commonly heard buzzing around discussions of the gadabout: the gadfly. Gadfly is a term used for any of a number of winged pests (such as horseflies) that bite or annoy livestock. Since gadflies are known for their nasty bite, it's not surprising that they are named after a sharp chisel or pointed bar used by miners to loosen rock and ore called a "gad." But, although a gadabout's gossip can bite, gadfly doesn't have any clear etymological relation to gadabout, which traces back to the Middle English verb gadden, whose etymology etymologists are still trying to catch.

Examples of gadabout in a Sentence

she was a thoughtful gadabout, always picking up souvenirs for her friends from wherever her travels took her
Recent Examples on the Web Hardly the schedule of a social gadabout. New York Times, 5 Aug. 2021 The giggling gadabout who dies penniless. Cory Oldweiler, Star Tribune, 11 Dec. 2020 The wild career of David Johansen — New York Dolls frontman, punk gadabout, occasional actor, and Buster Poindexter portrayer — will be the focus of an upcoming documentary co-directed by Martin Scorsese. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 16 Mar. 2023 For those of us who won’t be joining in the sybaritic excursion, Matches is bringing the Riviera gadabout vibes to all with capsule collections of women’s, men’s and home products curated by Sciò and Rabensteiner. Todd Plummer, Robb Report, 5 May 2022 But a linesman stepped in and prevented the gadabout angler from bringing in the catch. Globe Staff,, 27 Nov. 2021 He was inundated with offers and tried to avoid being typecast as the likable gadabout., 6 Sep. 2021 Listen here Writer, comedian, and social gadabout Lucas Murphy sits down with friends and contemporaries to solve the New York Times crossword puzzle. Savannah Eadens, The Courier-Journal, 20 Apr. 2020 So, a solar charging system fits perfectly with your gadabout persona. The Editors, Field & Stream, 10 Apr. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gadabout.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from the verb phrase gad about, from gad entry 2

First Known Use

1757, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gadabout was in 1757


Dictionary Entries Near gadabout

Cite this Entry

“Gadabout.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


gad·​about ˈgad-ə-ˌbau̇t How to pronounce gadabout (audio)
: a person who goes from place to place in social activity
gadabout adjective
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