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verb (used without object), gad·ded, gad·ding.
  1. to move restlessly or aimlessly from one place to another: to gad about.
  1. the act of gadding.

Origin of gad1

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 formsgad·der, noungad·ding·ly, adverb


  1. a goad for driving cattle.
  2. a pointed mining tool for breaking up rock, coal, etc.

Origin of gad2

1175–1225; Middle English < Old Norse gaddr spike; cognate with Gothic gazds


  1. a son of Zilpah. Gen. 30:11.
  2. one of the twelve tribes of Israel, traditionally descended from him.
  3. a Hebrew prophet and chronicler of the court of David. II Sam. 24:11–19.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gads

Historical Examples

  • Other instances are to be found where the billets are termed delves or gads.

    A Complete Guide to Heraldry

    Arthur Charles Fox-Davies

  • Although she gads about so much, she doesnt neglect her household duties.

  • Ur and Arthur went at the basket and Lawn Dyarrig at twisting the gads.

  • Instead of sticking to his job, he gads about on the Prospect and plays cards.

  • Gads fish, man, said the king, thou shalt have the place for thy downright honesty.

British Dictionary definitions for gads


verb gads, gadding or gadded
  1. (intr; often foll by about or around) to go out in search of pleasure, esp in an aimless manner; gallivant
  1. carefree adventure (esp in the phrase on or upon the gad)
Derived Formsgadder, noun

Word Origin

C15: back formation from obsolete gadling companion, from Old English, from gæd fellowship; related to Old High German gatuling


  1. mining a short chisel-like instrument for breaking rock or coal from the face
  2. a goad for driving cattle
  3. a western US word for spur (def. 1)
verb gads, gadding or gadded
  1. (tr) 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
  1. 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
  1. 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

Word Origin and History for gads



"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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