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noun Textiles.
  1. the process of attenuating worsted fibers and making them parallel by using a gill box while combing.

Origin of gilling


  1. the respiratory organ of aquatic animals, as fish, that breathe oxygen dissolved in water.
  2. Also called lamella. one of the radiating vertical plates on the underside of the cap of an agaric mushroom.
  3. ground ivy.
verb (used with object)
  1. to gut or clean (fish).
  1. to catch (fish) by the gills in a gill net.
  2. green/white around the gills, somewhat pale, as from being sickly, nervous, or frightened: When he heard how much the bill was, he looked a little green around the gills.
  3. to the gills, Informal. fully; completely; totally: After that big meal we were all stuffed to the gills.

Origin of gill1

1300–50; Middle English gile < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse gjǫlnar < *gelnō; cognate with Swed gäl, Danish gælle, Norwegian gjelle gill
Related formsgill-less, adjectivegill-like, adjective


  1. a faller used in the combing process, generally for only the highest-quality fibers.
verb (used with object)
  1. to comb (fibers) with a gill.

Origin of gill5

First recorded in 1830–40; perhaps special use of gill1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gilling

Historical Examples

  • After this Gilling must soon have ceased to be of any account.

    Yorkshire Painted And Described

    Gordon Home

  • Suttung was not harmless and simple like Gilling, his brother.

  • Suttung, Gilling's brother, tracked them down and captured them.

  • But Gilling was already there, kissing his wife and daughter.

    The Count's Chauffeur

    William Le Queux

  • Mr. Gilling repeated curiously, in his nervous, serious way.

    Penrod and Sam

    Booth Tarkington

British Dictionary definitions for gilling


  1. (Arthur) Eric (Rowton). 1882–1940, British sculptor, engraver, and typographer: his sculptures include the Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral, London


  1. the respiratory organ in many aquatic animals, consisting of a membrane or outgrowth well supplied with blood vessels. External gills occur in tadpoles, some molluscs, etc; internal gills, within gill slits, occur in most fishesRelated adjective: branchial
  2. any of the radiating leaflike spore-producing structures on the undersurface of the cap of a mushroom
  1. to catch (fish) or (of fish) to be caught in a gill net
  2. (tr) to gut (fish)
See also gills
Derived Formsgilled, adjectivegill-less, adjectivegill-like, adjective

Word Origin

C14: of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish gäl, Danish gjælle, Greek khelunē lip


  1. a unit of liquid measure equal to one quarter of a pint
  2. Northern English dialect half a pint, esp of beer

Word Origin

C14: from Old French gille vat, tub, from Late Latin gillō cooling vessel for liquids, of obscure origin



noun dialect
  1. a narrow stream; rivulet
  2. a wooded ravine
  3. (capital when part of place name) a deep natural hole in rock; potholeGaping Gill

Word Origin

C11: from Old Norse gil steep-sided valley


  1. archaic a girl or sweetheart
  2. dialect a female ferretAlso spelt: jill
  3. an archaic or dialect name for ground ivy

Word Origin

C15: special use of Gill, short for Gillian, girl's name
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 gilling



"organ of breathing in fishes," early 14c., of unknown origin, perhaps from a Scandinavian source, e.g. Old Norse giolnar which perhaps means "gills;" Old Danish -gæln (in fiske-gæln "fish gill"). Related: Gills.



liquid measure (commonly a half-pint), late 13c., from Old French gille, a wine measure, and directly from Medieval Latin gillo "earthenware jar," of uncertain origin.


fem. proper name, see Jill.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gilling in Science


  1. The organ that enables most aquatic animals to take dissolved oxygen from the water. It consists of a series of membranes that have many small blood vessels. Oxygen passes into the bloodstream and carbon dioxide passes out of it as water flows across the membranes.
  2. One of the thin strips of tissue on the underside of the cap of many species of basidiomycete fungi. Gills produce the spore-bearing structures known as basidia.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.