gingerly

adjective gin·ger·ly \ ˈjin-jər-lē \

Definition of gingerly

: very cautious or careful
  • He gingerly sorted the fragile flowers.

gingerliness

noun

gingerly

adverb

gingerly was our Word of the Day on 09/17/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of gingerly in a Sentence

  1. gave the cork on the bottle of champagne a gingerly twist

Did You Know?

Etymologists take a gingerly approach to assigning any particular origins to this word. While it might have come from the name of the spice, there's nothing concrete to back up that idea. Another conjecture is that it's related to an Old French word, gensor, that meant "delicate." That's because in 16th century English an earlier sense of "gingerly" often referred to dancing or walking with dainty steps. Not till the 17th century did it change to apply to movements that were cautious in order to avoid being noisy or causing injury, and to a wary manner in handling or presenting ideas. Not too surprisingly, given its "-ly" ending, "gingerly" is also quite often correctly used as an adverb. One could thus say that "she rotated his shoulder gingerly."

Origin and Etymology of gingerly

perhaps from 1ginger


GINGERLY Defined for Kids

gingerly

adverb gin·ger·ly \ ˈjin-jər-lē \

Definition of gingerly for Students

: very carefully
  • The robbers gingerly lifted the covers and peeked out …
  • —Robert McCloskey, Homer Price


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