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  1. impudence; effrontery.
  2. bile, especially that of an animal.
  3. something bitter or severe.
  4. bitterness of spirit; rancor.
  1. gall and wormwood, bitterness of spirit; deep resentment.

Origin of gall1

before 900; Middle English; Old English galla, gealla; cognate with German Galle; akin to Latin fel, Greek cholḗ gall, bile


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1. nerve, audacity, brass, cheek.


verb (used with object)
  1. to make sore by rubbing; chafe severely: The saddle galled the horse's back.
  2. to vex or irritate greatly: His arrogant manner galls me.
verb (used without object)
  1. to be or become chafed.
  2. Machinery. (of either of two engaging metal parts) to lose metal to the other because of heat or molecular attraction resulting from friction.
  3. Metallurgy. (of a die or compact in powder metallurgy) to lose surface material through adhesion to the die.
  1. a sore on the skin, especially of a horse, due to rubbing; excoriation.
  2. something very vexing or irritating.
  3. a state of vexation or irritation.

Origin of gall2

before 1000; Middle English galle (noun), gallen (v.) perhaps < Middle Dutch, Middle Low German gall, akin to Old English gealla sore on a horse
Related formsun·galled, adjective


  1. any abnormal vegetable growth or excrescence on plants, caused by various agents, as insects, nematodes, fungi, bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and mechanical injuries.

Origin of gall3

1350–1400; Middle English galle < Middle French < Latin galla gallnut. See gall2


  1. Pizi, 1840?–94, leader of the Hunkpapa Sioux: a major chief in the battle of Little Bighorn.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for gall


  1. informal impudence
  2. bitterness; rancour
  3. something bitter or disagreeable
  4. physiol an obsolete term for bile 1
  5. an obsolete term for gall bladder

Word Origin

from Old Norse, replacing Old English gealla; related to Old High German galla, Greek kholē


  1. a sore on the skin caused by chafing
  2. something that causes vexation or annoyancea gall to the spirits
  3. irritation; exasperation
  1. pathol to abrade (the skin, etc) as by rubbing
  2. (tr) to irritate or annoy; vex

Word Origin

C14: of Germanic origin; related to Old English gealla sore on a horse, and perhaps to gall 1


  1. an abnormal outgrowth in plant tissue caused by certain parasitic insects, fungi, bacteria, or mechanical injury

Word Origin

C14: from Old French galle, from Latin galla
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 gall


"bile," Old English galla (Anglian), gealla (W. Saxon) "gall, bile," from Proto-Germanic *gallon- (cf. Old Norse gall, Old Saxon, Old High German galla, German Galle), from PIE root *ghel- "gold, yellow, yellowish-green" (see Chloe). Informal sense of "impudence, boldness" first recorded American English 1882; but meaning "embittered spirit, rancor" is from c.1200, from the medieval theory of humors. Gall bladder recorded from 1670s.


"sore spot on a horse," Old English gealla "painful swelling," from Latin galla "gall, lump on plant," originally "oak apple," of uncertain origin. Perhaps from or influenced by gall (1) on notion of "poison-sore." German galle, Dutch gal also are from Latin.


"to make sore by chafing," mid-15c., from gall (n.2). Earlier "to have sores, be sore" (early 14c.). Figurative sense of "harass, irritate" is from 1570s. Related: Galled; galling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gall in Science


  1. An abnormal swelling of plant tissue, caused by injury or by parasitic organisms such as insects, mites, nematodes, and bacteria. Parasites stimulate the production of galls by secreting chemical irritants on or in the plant tissue. Galls stimulated by egg-laying parasites typically provide a protective environment in which the eggs can hatch and the pupae develop, and they usually do only minor damage to the host plant. Gall-stimulating fungi and microorganisms, such as the bacterium that causes crown gall, are generally considered to be plant diseases.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.