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 \

Definition of gambol

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to skip about in play : frisk, frolic



Definition of gambol (Entry 2 of 2)

: a skipping or leaping about in play

Synonyms for gambol

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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: Verb 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 Three friends gambol drunkenly on the lawn, noisy in their adamant youthfulness. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 21 Jan. 2022 The unusual attraction, which opened Friday, features 21 guest rooms that look out over an indoor enclosure where the bears gambol across a floor painted to look like an ice floe. Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2021 Kids and dogs were free to gambol through the large parlors and 11 modestly sized bedrooms upstairs, and there were lots of books to read on the pillared porch. Nancy Hass, New York Times, 30 Sep. 2020 Our first thought was to try to extend our food supply by fishing, but the flood had brought down so much food that the large specimens gambolling around our pontoon ignored our tastiest baits. Ian Johnson, The New York Review of Books, 5 Apr. 2020 What’s left is a shimmering sensibility that gambols freely in a new age. Matt Cooper, Los Angeles Times, 16 Oct. 2019 But for the launch of two works by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone, guests gamboled across Fort Mason’s Great Meadow. Catherine Bigelow,, 6 Nov. 2019 When the heavens open, many happily sing and gambol in the rain. Aimee Lewis, CNN, 12 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gambol.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of gambol


1508, in the meaning defined above


circa 1510, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gambol


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

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Last Updated

19 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gambol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for gambol


gam·​bol | \ ˈgam-bəl How to pronounce gambol (audio) \
gamboled or gambolled; gamboling or gambolling

Kids Definition of gambol

: to run or play happily : frolic Children gamboled on the lawn.

More from Merriam-Webster on gambol

Nglish: Translation of gambol for Spanish Speakers


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