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 dreamsAndrea 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.

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
How better to express all that than by slicing paper into handmade greeting cards, with whorls that can be pulled up to form gossamer cages for images of lovebirds, bouquets, engagement rings, or even rodents? The New York Times, New York Times, 9 Mar. 2024 So much of her work is lively, gossamer, flirtatious. Elizabeth Barber, Harper's Magazine, 2 Feb. 2024 As Pakistan approaches fresh elections on Feb. 8, the 71-year-old’s chances of a comeback appear gossamer thin, despite retaining broad public support. Charlie Campbell, TIME, 17 Jan. 2024 The atmosphere is more or less made for the ‘Gram, with plush pillows everywhere, gossamer drapes and groovy purple lighting. Madeleine Marr, Miami Herald, 24 Jan. 2024 When an ultrasound technician slid a wand across her belly, Davis peered eagerly at the gossamer image emerging into view on the monitor beside her. Jennifer Berry Hawes, ProPublica, 11 Jan. 2024 The legs are separated on another plate, alongside ramekins of scallions, diced cucumber, sweet bean sauce and a steamer basket full of chun bing gossamer pancakes. Jenn Harris, Los Angeles Times, 8 Jan. 2024 For the final ceremony of the multiday celebrations, Arti wore a full velvet skirt covered in golden embroidery, matched to the gossamer red veil over her head. Amanda Taub, New York Times, 8 Dec. 2023 This is what rosé should be: Pale pink translucent as gossamer, floral and saline, refreshing as an early autumn breeze. Dave McIntyre, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023
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

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gossamer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 20 Apr. 2024.

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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