gossamer

1 of 2

noun

gos·​sa·​mer ˈgä-sə-mər How to pronounce gossamer (audio)
 also  ˈgäz-mər,
ˈgä-zə-
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
gossamery
ˈgä-sə-mə-rē How to pronounce gossamer (audio)
 also  ˈgäz-mə-
ˈgä-zə-
adjective

gossamer

2 of 2

adjective

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

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.

Example Sentences

Noun a butterfly's wings of gossamer Adjective 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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Think: lightweight and gossamer knits made of an insanely soft cashmere yarn. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, 15 Nov. 2022 Moss, who took on a creative director role at the pop company in the spring, seems to be reclaiming her title as the original gossamer influencer. Alice Newbold, Vogue, 11 Nov. 2022 Montgomery keeps the listener’s ear alert and engaged, with subsequent sections built around a sequence of striking, deeply gnarled chords, or quietly drawn gossamer textures from the strings. Jeremy Eichler, BostonGlobe.com, 23 Sep. 2022 With the chards, Sonoma offers gossamer texture and filigree. Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2022 The most fraught part of NEA Scout’s mission will likely be the deployment of its gossamer-thin sail, which must unfold essentially flawlessly in deep space. Steven Ashley, Scientific American, 23 Aug. 2022 In addition to Victoria and David, Gigi Hadid was spotted at sea over the weekend—in an ethereal gossamer coverup—embracing the soccer legend. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 26 July 2022 Hessel Cohen LoveShackFancy-fied many of the girls—Buffett wore a dreamy gossamer gown of green and white. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, 5 June 2022 Under is gossamer-thin — like the wings of the butterflies that become one more sign of childhood pleasures being discarded. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 June 2022
Adjective
No matter how far-fetched the premise or gossamer-thin the story, the musical invites (compels) us to go along with its essential surrealism, to travel to that dream space where everyday life suddenly moves and sounds deliriously out of this world. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 7 May 2020 For her label Anissa Aida, designer Anissa Meddeb, who lives in the capital, makes gossamer silk blouses evoking the striped motif of handwoven fouta towels and voluminous coats inspired by the burnoose cloaks worn by Berbers. Sarah Khan, Condé Nast Traveler, 5 Feb. 2020 The result is a sequence of events that’s both intriguing and gossamer-thin. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 23 Jan. 2020 The hangers are also coated with velvet flocking, better for grabbing gossamer blouses that can slide off smoother hangers. Jennifer Hunter, New York Times, 22 Jan. 2020 Both would be coated with a gossamer-thin layer of gold for reflectivity and bathed in faint laser beams to detect their oscillations—and thus their temperature. Charles Q. Choi, Scientific American, 11 Dec. 2019 But his most impressive skill is the ancient art of gilding, using gossamer sheets of gold leaf just .12 microns thick to add a brilliant metallic effect to lettering. Jeff Csatari, Popular Mechanics, 9 Dec. 2019 Cool in Top-Siders and floral maxidresses and gossamer pareos. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 14 Oct. 2019 Or the glamorous Starry Starry Night, gossamer black sesame sponge cake, silky sweet chocolate ganache and a sprinkling of marzipan stars. Beth Segal, cleveland, 3 Oct. 2019 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English gossomer, from gos goose + somer summer

Adjective

from attributive use of gossamer entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

circa 1807, in the meaning defined above

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

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Dictionary Entries Near gossamer

Cite this Entry

“Gossamer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gossamer. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

gossamer

noun

gos·​sa·​mer
ˈgäs-ə-mər,
 also  ˈgäz(-ə)-mər
1
: a film of cobwebs floating in air
2
: something light or very delicate
gossamer adjective
gossamery
-mə-rē
adjective

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