gir·​dle | \ ˈgər-dᵊl How to pronounce girdle (audio) \

Definition of girdle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that encircles or confines: such as
a : an article of dress encircling the body usually at the waist
b : a woman's close-fitting undergarment often boned and usually elasticized that extends from the waist to below the hips
2 : the edge of a brilliant that is grasped by the setting — see brilliant illustration


girdled; girdling\ ˈgər-​dᵊl-​iŋ How to pronounce girdling (audio) \

Definition of girdle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to encircle with or as if with a girdle
2 : to cut away the bark and cambium in a ring around (a plant) usually to kill by interrupting the circulation of water and nutrients
3 : to move around : circle girdled the world

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for girdle

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of girdle in a Sentence

Noun drew a handkerchief from the girdle around her waist and offered it to the knight as a token of affection Verb the rings that girdle the planet Saturn trees girdled the campus, essentially hiding it from view
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun She was bruised and nude from the waist down; her pantyhose and girdle bunched around her knees. Tamara Lush And Adrian Sainz,, "California inmate who claims to have killed 90 women is most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, FBI says," 7 Oct. 2019 This is one of America's most beloved drag performers, after all, having slipped into heels and a girdle to great acclaim in Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage aux Folles and Hairspray. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Bella Bella': Theater Review," 23 Oct. 2019 She was bruised and nude from the waist down; her pantyhose and girdle bunched around her knees. Anchorage Daily News, "FBI: Inmate is the deadliest serial killer in US history," 8 Oct. 2019 In a case out of Tennessee, for example, Martha Cunningham’s body was found bruised and nude from the waist down in the woods in 1975, her pantyhose and girdle bunched around her knees. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Killer’s lifetime of evil backed up by a prodigious memory," 8 Oct. 2019 The resulting box encloses the shoulder and hip girdles, but is open at the front for the head, neck and forelegs, and at the back for the tail and hind legs. Hans-dieter Sues, Smithsonian, "How the Turtle Got Its Shell, With Apologies to Aesop," 20 Aug. 2019 In between, there was everything from girdles to socket wrenches, dresses to guns, dolls to washing machines. Allen G. Breed, The Seattle Times, "Girdles and socket wrenches: Sears was the Amazon of its day," 16 Oct. 2018 Unlike a girdle or a pair of Spanx, which are worn for temporary smoothness, these trainers are often touted as weight-loss aids that will trim and shape the waist if worn throughout the day or while exercising. Ray A. Smith, WSJ, "‘Worst Decision Ever’: A New Fashion Trend Leaves Women Literally Breathless," 16 Aug. 2018 This extension of the cover could be used to carry the book like a purse or could be tucked into a girdle or belt. Constance Grady, Vox, "The Comey book isn’t quite performing to Fire and Fury standards," 21 Apr. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Encastled behind lofty walls and girdled by greensward (sprinklers feed the greenness, with a gentle hiss) is the home of Park Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun) and his wife, Yeon-kyo (Jo Yeo-jeong), who is somewhat less serene than her surroundings. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Parasite” Explores What Lies Beneath," 11 Oct. 2019 When not in use, the loop around the limb is relaxed, which allows the tree to grow without strangling or girdling it. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, "How to Hang a Rope Swing in Your Favorite Tree," 8 Aug. 2019 The barbs of Megatrygon microps are large, and the rays have strong muscles girdling their tail. Douglas Main, National Geographic, "The ocean's largest, rarest stingray revealed in new video," 17 June 2019 From the moment Dani, Christian and the rest pass through the settlement’s sunburst gate, everything from the green hills girdling the compound to the flowing choreography contributes to the slow-growing, inexorable sense of entrapment. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "‘Midsommar’ Review: Building a Horror Møusetrap With Swedish Bait," 2 July 2019 Baylor helps manage the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, a 261-mile-long stretch of river girdled in its middle by Lock and Dam 8 near Genoa. Tristan Baurick,, "Reshaping the Mississippi is unraveling wildlife habitat: The River’s Revenge," 15 June 2019 The string can girdle the tree trunk to permanently injure the vascular system and reduce growth rate. Calvin Finch,, "More great plants for color in your San Antonio summer garden," 14 June 2019 Hawaiian Airlines From its humble beginnings as an island puddle-jumper, Hawaiian is now girdling half the globe with New York-Honolulu nonstops and flights from its hub to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best U.S. Airlines: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 Crews have employed a number of tactics, including felling trees with chain saws, girdling their trunks with a blade and spraying the wound with a systemic herbicide. Adrian Higgins, The Seattle Times, "Scientists thought they had created the perfect tree. But it became a nightmare.," 17 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'girdle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of girdle


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1582, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for girdle


Middle English girdel, from Old English gyrdel; akin to Old High German gurtil girdle, Old English gyrdan to gird

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about girdle

Time Traveler for girdle

Time Traveler

The first known use of girdle was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for girdle

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Girdle.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for girdle


How to pronounce girdle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of girdle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that wraps or circles around something else specifically : a tight piece of clothing worn especially in the past by women under other clothes to make the area around the waist look thinner



English Language Learners Definition of girdle (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : to form a circle around (something) or to surround (something)


gir·​dle | \ ˈgər-dᵊl How to pronounce girdle (audio) \

Kids Definition of girdle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something (as a belt or sash) that encircles or binds
2 : a tight undergarment worn below the waist by women


girdled; girdling

Kids Definition of girdle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to bind with or as if with a girdle, belt, or sash : encircle
2 : to strip a ring of bark from a tree trunk


gir·​dle | \ ˈgərd-ᵊ1 How to pronounce girdle (audio) \

Medical Definition of girdle

: either of two more or less complete bony rings at the anterior and posterior ends of the vertebrate trunk supporting the arms and legs respectively:

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on girdle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for girdle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with girdle

Spanish Central: Translation of girdle

Nglish: Translation of girdle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of girdle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on girdle

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


to state or do over again or repeatedly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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