gallowglass

play
noun gal·low·glass \ ˈga-lō-ˌglas \

Definition of gallowglass

1 :a mercenary or retainer of an Irish chief
2 :an armed Irish foot soldier

Origin and Etymology of gallowglass

borrowed from Irish gallóglach "soldier from a Scottish clan in the service of an Irish chief," from gall "Gaul, Scandinavian invader, foreigner" (going back to Middle Irish, borrowed from Latin Gallus "a gaul") + óglach "young man, warrior, soldier," going back to Middle Irish óclach, óglaech, originally derivative (probably after echlach "messenger, attendant," midlach "man incapable of bearing arms, coward") of óc "young," going back to Old Irish óac, going back to Celtic *yowanko- (whence also Welsh ieuanc "young," Breton yaouank), going back to Indo-European *h2i̯̯u-h2n-ḱo- — more at 1young
Note: The final -ss in the English form is difficult to explain. It may be an English plural -s added superfluously to the Irish plural gallóglaigh, though one would expect this to be evident in early use of gallowglass as a plural. The apparent first known occurrence of the word, however, is galloglasseis, which already shows a singular galloglas(s) as the base form.


Learn More about gallowglass


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up gallowglass? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to curse or denounce

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!