1 of 2


gam·​bol ˈgam-bəl How to pronounce gambol (audio)
gamboled or gambolled; gamboling or gambolling ˈgam-bə-liŋ How to pronounce gambol (audio)
 also  -bliŋ

intransitive verb

: to skip about in play : frisk, frolic


2 of 2


: a skipping or leaping about in play

Did you know?

In Middle French, the noun gambade referred to the frisky spring of a jumping horse. In the early 1500s, English speakers adopted the word as gambol as both a verb and a noun. (The noun means "a skipping or leaping about in play.") The English word is not restricted to horses, but rather can be used of any frolicsome creature. It is a word that suggests levity and spontaneity, and it tends to be used especially of the lively activity of children or animals engaged in active play.

Examples of gambol in a Sentence

Verb lambs gamboling in the meadow dog owners chat while their pooches gambol on the park's great lawn Noun she and her old college roommate headed off for one final European gambol before returning to the States to start their separate careers
Recent Examples on the Web
For California’s governor, who loves gamboling on a national stage, the whole evening was a lark. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 1 Dec. 2023 Her puppies gambol around her, looking healthy and excited, but everyone else seems momentarily stunned by this story. Jeanette Marantos, Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2023 Just as creepy to me was the mural on the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, a bucolic panorama of happy piglets gamboling with kids and sleeping under shady trees — a gory dissonance to the daily assembly-line killing of thousands of pigs inside the abattoir. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 17 Aug. 2023 Suddenly, chimps emerged from the woods, gamboling across the grassy lawn and clambering into the adjoining buildings. Emily Anthes Emil T. Lippe, New York Times, 8 Aug. 2023 Awakened by crashes on roof of tent, then saw cascade of baboons gamboling down the tent poles and across the porch. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 10 Sep. 2022 Thanks to a reintroduction program, this horse is now found on the steppes of Central Asia, and up to 300 horses gambol around in Mongolia. Ralph Steadman, Discover Magazine, 19 July 2018 Alaska Luxury Tours’ yacht cruises the waters off Juneau and Icy Strait Point looking for the humpbacks and orcas that gambol there. Andrew Nelson, WSJ, 31 Mar. 2021 And now that the crowds are returning to gamble and gambol, these entertainment emporiums look to be on sure footing. Larry Light, Fortune, 14 July 2022
In the winning first moments of the show, Mills gambols on as the Narrator, wielding a paint palette and, instead of a brush, a tuft of rainbow-colored gauze. Celia Wren, Washington Post, 12 Dec. 2023 Once thought to be bipedal, hadrosaurs are now believed to have walked on all fours, though some species may have taken the occasional awkward two-legged gambol. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 17 Apr. 2019 In my backyard, rabbits gambol, squirrels leap and the birds sing with a new exuberance now that there’s no traffic noise from the nearby highway. Claire Messud, WSJ, 30 Apr. 2020 Designed by Amanda Villalobos, the prehistoric arthropods in this show gambol about with googly eyes and flicking antennas and tails. Laurel Graeber, New York Times, 10 Feb. 2020 The other villagers are at first just part of the magnificent landscape in which the couple gambol, before their gossip and shunning and sabotaging begin to personify the evil that has encroached. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, 13 Dec. 2019 Underneath, a river otter gambols on a rocky beach. Lynn Jacobson, The Seattle Times, 23 Aug. 2017 See More

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

Word History



in part verbal derivative of gambol entry 2, in part borrowing (assimilated to the noun) from Middle French gambader, verbal derivative of gambade


earlier "leap of a horse, leap, caper," probably apocopated variant of gambold, gambald, re-formation (by association with French-derived words, as ribald entry 2, ending in the suffix -aud, -auld) of gambade, borrowed from Middle French, probably borrowed from Occitan cambado, gambado, from camba "leg" (going back to Late Latin camba, gamba) + -ado -ade — more at jamb

First Known Use


1508, in the meaning defined above


circa 1510, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gambol was in 1508


Dictionary Entries Near gambol

Cite this Entry

“Gambol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


gamboled or gambolled; gamboling or gambolling
 also  -bliŋ
: to run or skip about in play : frolic
gambol noun

More from Merriam-Webster on gambol

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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