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[gawl] /gɔl/
verb (used with object)
to make sore by rubbing; chafe severely:
The saddle galled the horse's back.
to vex or irritate greatly:
His arrogant manner galls me.
verb (used without object)
to be or become chafed.
Machinery. (of either of two engaging metal parts) to lose metal to the other because of heat or molecular attraction resulting from friction.
Metallurgy. (of a die or compact in powder metallurgy) to lose surface material through adhesion to the die.
a sore on the skin, especially of a horse, due to rubbing; excoriation.
something very vexing or irritating.
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 forms
ungalled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for galled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Santa Fina and her flowers could not soften or bring peace to his galled soul.

    Halcyone Elinor Glyn
  • This galled him severely, especially as she had refused to see him when he called.

    Under Fire Frank A. Munsey
  • He knew he was bound to him by chains which galled every time he strained against them.

    The Heart of Unaga Ridgwell Cullum
  • He pressed her hard in his cold way, and it galled her sorely.

  • Sikes knew too much, and his ruffian taunts had not galled the Jew the less because the wounds were hidden.

  • It galled him to take the woman's wages, but it vexed him yet more to do her work.

    The Scapegoat Hall Caine
  • It is essentially bottomless, cancerous; a putrescence through the constitution of the people is indicated by this galled place.

  • It galled me when I thought how sportsman-like I had been to attract their attention.

    Tales of Fishes Zane Grey
British Dictionary definitions for galled


(informal) impudence
bitterness; rancour
something bitter or disagreeable
(physiol) an obsolete term for bile1
an obsolete term for gall bladder
Word Origin
from Old Norse, replacing Old English gealla; related to Old High German galla, Greek kholē


a sore on the skin caused by chafing
something that causes vexation or annoyance: a gall to the spirits
irritation; exasperation
(pathol) to abrade (the skin, etc) as by rubbing
(transitive) to irritate or annoy; vex
Word Origin
C14: of Germanic origin; related to Old English gealla sore on a horse, and perhaps to gall1


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
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Word Origin and History for galled



"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
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galled in Medicine

gall 1 (gôl)
See bile.

gall 2 (gôl)
A skin sore caused by friction and abrasion. v. galled, gall·ing, galls
To become irritated, chafed, or sore.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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galled in Science
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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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galled in the Bible

(1) Heb. mererah, meaning "bitterness" (Job 16:13); i.e., the bile secreted in the liver. This word is also used of the poison of asps (20:14), and of the vitals, the seat of life (25). (2.) Heb. rosh. In Deut. 32:33 and Job 20:16 it denotes the poison of serpents. In Hos. 10:4 the Hebrew word is rendered "hemlock." The original probably denotes some bitter, poisonous plant, most probably the poppy, which grows up quickly, and is therefore coupled with wormwood (Deut. 29:18; Jer. 9:15; Lam. 3:19). Comp. Jer. 8:14; 23:15, "water of gall," Gesenius, "poppy juice;" others, "water of hemlock," "bitter water." (3.) Gr. chole (Matt. 27:34), the LXX. translation of the Hebrew _rosh_ in Ps. 69; 21, which foretells our Lord's sufferings. The drink offered to our Lord was vinegar (made of light wine rendered acid, the common drink of Roman soldiers) "mingled with gall," or, according to Mark (15:23), "mingled with myrrh;" both expressions meaning the same thing, namely, that the vinegar was made bitter by the infusion of wormwood or some other bitter substance, usually given, according to a merciful custom, as an anodyne to those who were crucified, to render them insensible to pain. Our Lord, knowing this, refuses to drink it. He would take nothing to cloud his faculties or blunt the pain of dying. He chooses to suffer every element of woe in the bitter cup of agony given him by the Father (John 18:11).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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