gos·​sa·​mer | \ˈgä-sə-mər also ˈgäz-mər, ˈgä-zə-\

Definition of gossamer 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a film of cobwebs floating in air in calm clear weather

2 : something light, delicate, or insubstantial the gossamer of youth's dreams— Andrea Parke



Definition of gossamer (Entry 2 of 2)

: extremely light, delicate, or tenuous a gossamer white veil

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Other Words from gossamer


gossamery \ˈgä-​sə-​mə-​rē also ˈgäz-​mə-​, ˈgä-​zə-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for gossamer

Synonyms: Adjective

cobwebby, filmy, flimsy, frothy, gauzy, gossamery, insubstantial, sleazy, unsubstantial

Antonyms: Adjective

sturdy, substantial

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Did You Know?


In the days of Middle English, a period of mild weather in late autumn or early winter was sometimes called a "gossomer," literally "goose summer." People may have chosen that name for a late-season warm spell because October and November were the months when people felt that geese were at their best for eating. "Gossomer" was also used in Middle English as a word for filmy cobwebs floating through the air in calm clear weather, apparently because somebody thought the webs looked like the down of a goose. This sense eventually inspired the adjective "gossamer," which means "light, delicate, or tenuous" - just like cobwebs or goose down.

Examples of gossamer in a Sentence


a butterfly's wings of gossamer


fairies are usually depicted as wearing gossamer or tattered clothing the gossamer veil seemed to float about the bride as she walked down the aisle
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The images feature Rodarte darlings Grimes, Chloe x Halle, Kim Gordon, Rowan Blanchard, (an expecting) Kirsten Dunst, and more in Kate and Laura Mulleavy's gossamer ready-to-wear confections. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Flower Shower: The Story Behind Rodarte’s Dreamy Floral Umbrellas," 1 Feb. 2018 The tracks have a gossamer-like quality that is atmospheric and subtly insistent. Jim Fusilli, WSJ, "‘Aromanticism’ by Moses Sumney Review:," 21 Sep. 2017 In the fourth variation, Prokofiev takes the sprightly rhythms of the opening theme’s first three notes and spins them into gossamer. Barbara Jepson, WSJ, "A Soloist’s Long Awaited Return," 25 Oct. 2017 The Yankees held that strange gossamer of an 8-3 lead when Chad Green faced Lonnie Chisenhall with two outs and two runners on in the sixth. Tom Verducci, SI.com, "Indians Turn Cleveland Into Land of True Belief," 7 Oct. 2017 In bridal wear, quality is of the essence, be it in the form of a rich brocade, a decadent velvet, a fine silk or in this case, a gossamer, glitter-flecked tulle. Christian Oth, Harper's BAZAAR, "17 Non-Traditional Gowns For the Renegade Bride," 17 Mar. 2017 Given this harsh and violent reality, a new report offers a gossamer of optimism. Ulrich Boser, The Atlantic, "The Youth-Counseling Program Helping to Curb Chicago's Violence," 13 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Slim though this volume is, there’s sometimes a sense of straining, as if Mr. Epstein were casting too wide a gossamer net. Thomas Vinciguerra, WSJ, "‘Charm’ Review: The Most Pleasing Personality," 11 Oct. 2018 But that, plus the ongoing chase after Ghost, is just a gossamer excuse for Reed to construct action set pieces that play with scale in all sorts of inventive ways, and inject them with witty banter. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Ant-Man and the Wasp," 5 July 2018 While Sun Speak often follows suit, the duo isn’t afraid of some scuffed-up, slightly rude accompaniment that underlines the gossamer fineness of her singing. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Instrumental duo Sun Speak gets a voice through a crystalline collaboration with Portuguese jazz singer Sara Serpa," 3 May 2018 In her room, bathed in silvery moonlight, a ghostly woman lay on her bed, dressed in magnificent silk robes and a gossamer veil unlike any attire the young girl had seen. Kate Siber, Outside Online, "The Bohemian Heiress Who Shattered 19th-Century Taboos," 24 Apr. 2018 Behind the hedgerows of their magnificent castles, these anachronistic curiositiesare interesting in the way a collection of old stamps might be, or insects with gossamer wings under glass. Mark Shanahan, BostonGlobe.com, "Who cares about the royals? But Meghan Markle . . .," 11 Apr. 2018 How, say, the gossamer bed canopy directly helps with those issues is unclear, but the effort is appreciated. Barbara Eldredge, Curbed, "Dreamy new Ikea collection wants to help you unplug," 16 Mar. 2018 A hundred yards from the rusting ruins at the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, a gossamer array of almost 4,000 photovoltaic panels sits atop a thick concrete slab capping a grave of radioactive waste. Time, "Chernobyl Is Now the World’s Unlikeliest Green Energy Experiment," 13 Mar. 2018 Victoria Beckham took to the streets of London today, visiting her Dover Street flagship in gossamer light pieces from her new collection. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Victoria Beckham Tests Out Next Season’s Trickiest Trend and Wins," 22 Sep. 2017

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

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First Known Use of gossamer


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1807, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gossamer


Middle English gossomer, from gos goose + somer summer


see gossamer entry 1

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Time Traveler for gossamer

The first known use of gossamer was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for gossamer



English Language Learners Definition of gossamer

: a piece of a spider's web

: a very light or delicate material


gos·​sa·​mer | \ˈgä-sə-mər, -zə-\

Kids Definition of gossamer

: a film of cobwebs floating in the air

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More from Merriam-Webster on gossamer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gossamer

Spanish Central: Translation of gossamer

Nglish: Translation of gossamer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gossamer for Arabic Speakers

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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