Word of the Day : February 3, 2012


verb GAM


1 : to have a visit or friendly conversation with

2 : to spend or pass (as time) talking

Did You Know?

"But what is a gam? You might wear out your index-finger running up and down the columns of dictionaries, and never find the word." So says the narrator, who calls himself Ishmael, of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. These days you will indeed find "gam" entered in dictionaries; Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the noun "gam" as "a visit or friendly conversation at sea or ashore especially between whalers." (It can also mean "a school of whales.") Melville’s narrator explains that when whaling ships met far out at sea, they would hail one another and the crews would exchange visits and news. English speakers have been using the word "gam" to refer to these and similar social exchanges since the mid-19th century.


The two strangers discovered that they had a lot in common as they gammed the hours away on the long train ride.

"It always was -- and still is, for that matter -- infuriating to be ignored when superiors are gamming on about an operation in which you are the one about to risk life and limb." -- From Robert N. Macomber's 2010 novel The Darkest Shade of Honor

Test Your Memory

What recent Word of the Day can mean "a trip or a journey"? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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