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Blech. These are the grossest words.


[goh-fer] /ˈgoʊ fər/
any of several ground squirrels of the genus Citellus, of the prairie regions of North America.
(initial capital letter) a native or inhabitant of Minnesota (used as a nickname).
(initial capital letter) Computers.
  1. a protocol for a menu-based system of accessing documents on the Internet.
  2. any program that implements this protocol.
verb (used without object)
  1. to mine unsystematically.
  2. to enlarge a hole, as in loose soil, with successively larger blasts.
Origin of gopher1
1785-95; earlier megopher, magopher gopher tortoise; of obscure origin; spelling copies gopher wood


[goh-fer] /ˈgoʊ fər/
noun, Slang.
1925-30; respelling of gofer by association with gopher1


or go-fer, gopher

[goh-fer] /ˈgoʊ fər/
noun, Slang.
an employee whose chief duty is running errands.
1965-70; respelling of go for (verb phrase), with -er representing both vowel reduction in for and -er1
Can be confused
gofer, gopher. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for gopher


Also called pocket gopher. any burrowing rodent of the family Geomyidae, of North and Central America, having a thickset body, short legs, and cheek pouches
another name for ground squirrel
any burrowing tortoise of the genus Gopherus, of SE North America
gopher snake, another name for bull snake
Word Origin
C19: shortened from earlier megopher or magopher, of obscure origin


(slang, mainly US & Canadian) an employee or assistant whose duties include menial tasks such as running errands
Word Origin
C20: originally US: alteration of go for
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 gopher

1812, American English, perhaps an Englishing of Louisiana French gaufre "honeycomb, waffle," said to have been used by French settlers in reference to small mammals on analogy of the structure of their burrows, from Old French gaufre, of Frankish origin. The rodent was the nickname of people from Arkansas (1845) and later Minnesota (1872). The gopherwood tree of the Bible (used by Noah to make the ark, Gen. vi:14) is unrelated; it is from Hebrew gofer, perhaps meaning the cypress.



"errand-runner," 1956, American English coinage from go for (coffee, spare parts, etc.), with a pun on gopher.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for gopher



An employee who is expected to serve and cater to others; a low-ranking subordinate: running the robo machine and acting as a receptionist, secretary, and general go-for/ attractive go-fers for executive editor Frank Waldrop

[1967+; gofor, an underworld term for ''dupe, sucker,'' is found by the 1920s and is probably semantically related]

gopher 1


  1. A young thief or hoodlum: tough West Side gophers who wouldn't hesitate to use a gun (1893+)
  2. A safecracker (1901+ Underworld)
  3. A safe or vault (1970s+ Underworld); (1870s+)
  4. gofer

gopher 2


To hit a GOFER BALL in baseball: only about the fifth or sixth that Orosco had gophered home the eventual gamer

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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gopher in Technology

networking, protocol
A distributed document retrieval system which started as a Campus Wide Information System at the University of Minnesota, and which was popular in the early 1990s.
Gopher is defined in RFC 1436. The protocol is like a primitive form of HTTP (which came later). Gopher lacks the MIME features of HTTP, but expressed the equivalent of a document's MIME type with a one-character code for the "Gopher object type". At time of writing (2001), all Web browers should be able to access gopher servers, although few gopher servers exist anymore.
Tim Berners-Lee, in his book "Weaving The Web" (pp.72-73), related his opinion that it was not so much the protocol limitations of gopher that made people abandon it in favor of HTTP/HTML, but instead the legal missteps on the part of the university where it was developed:
"It was just about this time, spring 1993, that the University of Minnesota decided that it would ask for a license fee from certain classes of users who wanted to use gopher. Since the gopher software being picked up so widely, the university was going to charge an annual fee. The browser, and the act of browsing, would be free, and the server software would remain free to nonprofit and educational institutions. But any other users, notably companies, would have to pay to use gopher server software.
"This was an act of treason in the academic community and the Internet community. Even if the university never charged anyone a dime, the fact that the school had announced it was reserving the right to charge people for the use of the gopher protocols meant it had crossed the line. To use the technology was too risky. Industry dropped gopher like a hot potato."

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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gopher in the Bible

a tree from the wood of which Noah was directed to build the ark (Gen. 6:14). It is mentioned only there. The LXX. render this word by "squared beams," and the Vulgate by "planed wood." Other versions have rendered it "pine" and "cedar;" but the weight of authority is in favour of understanding by it the cypress tree, which grows abundantly in Chaldea and Armenia.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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