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

Synonyms & Antonyms for gossamer

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Suddenly Simard uncovered a gossamer web of tiny white threads embedded in the soil. New York Times, "The Social Life of Forests," 2 Dec. 2020 These tiny insects, at some arcane cue from the environment, weave themselves a gossamer parachute and ascend in their millions, all on the same day. Colin Thubron, The New York Review of Books, "Cartographers of Stone and Air," 17 Nov. 2020 Two days later, Taal Volcano erupted outside of Manila, coating the parked cars in Poblacion with a gossamer of white ash. Sylvia Poggioli, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal, March 23–29," 29 Mar. 2020 The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wis., has been exhibiting vignettes from her whitewashed Manhattan apartment, where Ms. Tawney, who died in 2007 at 100, hung her gossamer weavings all around. New York Times, "These Books Move Heaven and Earth," 12 Mar. 2020 Perhaps the next time the candidates appear on a debate stage, the same level of scrutiny and skepticism can be applied to the public option mavens and their plans, which are, if anything, woven from their own strands of gossamer. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "The Public Option Bait and Switch," 17 Oct. 2019 Poised against a white column littered with orchids, Beyoncé seems otherworldly, a mirage of gossamer and gold, in a historic image shot by then-23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Smithsonian Nabs Beyoncé’s Portrait for Its Permanent Collection," 7 Aug. 2019 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," 1 Nov. 2018 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," 1 Nov. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: 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, "Escape With Me Into the Delirious World of 1940s Musicals," 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, "From Food to Fashion, Tunis Is Having a Cultural Renaissance," 5 Feb. 2020 The result is a sequence of events that’s both intriguing and gossamer-thin. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘The Gentlemen’: Blithe Thuggery With Flair to Spare," 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, "5 Cheap(ish) Things to Radically Make Over Your Closet," 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, "Space Heater: Scientists Find New Way to Transfer Energy Through a Vacuum," 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, "This Brooklyn Artist Is Bringing Back Ancient Sign-Painting Techniques," 9 Dec. 2019 Cool in Top-Siders and floral maxidresses and gossamer pareos. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "Let’s Talk About the Yacht Clothes on “Succession”," 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, "Foodhisattva: The triumph of Asian fusion vegan comfort food for all," 3 Oct. 2019

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

Noun and Adjective

Middle English gossomer, from gos goose + somer summer

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Time Traveler for gossamer

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Gossamer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gossamer. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for gossamer



English Language Learners Definition of gossamer

: a piece of a spider's web
literary : a very light or delicate material


gos·​sa·​mer | \ ˈgä-sə-mər How to pronounce gossamer (audio) , -zə- \

Kids Definition of gossamer

: a film of cobwebs floating in the air

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