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[gad] /gæd/
verb (used without object), gadded, gadding.
to move restlessly or aimlessly from one place to another:
to gad about.
the act of gadding.
Origin of gad1
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English gadden, perhaps back formation from gadeling companion in arms, fellow (in 16th century, vagabond, wanderer), Old English gædeling, derivative of gæd fellowship; see gather, -ling1
Related forms
gadder, noun
gaddingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for gadding
Historical Examples
  • I dare say they're standing supperless in their stalls while you're gadding about.

    Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood George MacDonald
  • Yet, let us not forget that this is the age of the gadding mind and the grabbing hand.

    Women's Wild Oats C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • You keep her out of harm's way and gadding, and so she never CAN be found out.

    Roundabout Papers William Makepeace Thackeray
  • That comes, I suppose, from not looking after her servants and gadding about on all sorts of charities.

    Virginia Ellen Glasgow
  • "Oh, I'm never too tired for gadding," replied Cecile with animation.

    At the Little Brown House Ruth Alberta Brown
  • He did not have nearly so much time for gadding, and Miss Eliza was pleased.

    The Heart of Arethusa

    Francis Barton Fox
  • He strongly disapproved of her gadding about by herself, and told her so.

    The Forsyte Saga, Complete John Galsworthy
  • Secret missives came, I hear, to each of them, and both are gadding.

  • Going, gadding, frivolling, flirting—that was the old Harvey.

    What's-His-Name George Barr McCutcheon
  • He encircled his gadding hair with a coronal of vineleaves, smiling at Vincent.

    Ulysses James Joyce
British Dictionary definitions for gadding


verb gads, gadding, gadded
(intransitive; often foll by about or around) to go out in search of pleasure, esp in an aimless manner; gallivant
carefree adventure (esp in the phrase on or upon the gad)
Derived Forms
gadder, noun
Word Origin
C15: back formation from obsolete gadling companion, from Old English, from gæd fellowship; related to Old High German gatuling


(mining) a short chisel-like instrument for breaking rock or coal from the face
a goad for driving cattle
a western US word for spur (sense 1)
verb gads, gadding, gadded
(transitive) (mining) to break up or loosen with a gad
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norse gaddr spike; related to Old High German gart, Gothic gazds spike


noun, interjection
an archaic euphemism for God by Gad!


noun (Old Testament)
  1. Jacob's sixth son, whose mother was Zilpah, Leah's maid
  2. the Israelite tribe descended from him
  3. the territory of this tribe, lying to the east of the Jordan and extending southwards from the Sea of Galilee
a prophet and admonisher of David (I Samuel 22; II Samuel 24)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gadding



"to rove about," mid-15c., perhaps a back-formation from Middle English gadeling (Old English gædeling) "kinsman, fellow, companion in arms," but which had a deteriorated sense of "rogue, vagabond" by c.1300 (it also had a meaning "wandering," but this is attested only from 16c.); or else it should be associated with gad (n.) "a goad for driving cattle." Related: Gadding.



"goad, metal rod," early 13c., from Old Norse gaddr "spike, nail," from Proto-Germanic *gadaz "pointed stick" (see yard (n.2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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