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gossamer

[gos-uh-mer] /ˈgɒs ə mər/
noun
1.
a fine, filmy cobweb seen on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather, especially in autumn.
2.
a thread or a web of this substance.
3.
an extremely delicate variety of gauze, used especially for veils.
4.
any thin, light fabric.
5.
something extremely light, flimsy, or delicate.
6.
a thin, waterproof outer garment, especially for women.
adjective
7.
Also, gossamery
[gos-uh-muh-ree] /ˈgɒs ə mə ri/ (Show IPA),
gossamered. of or like gossamer; thin and light.
Origin of gossamer
1275-1325
1275-1325; Middle English gosesomer (see goose, summer1); possibly first used as name for late, mild autumn, a time when goose was a favorite dish (compare German Gänsemonat November), then transferred to the cobwebs frequent at that time of year
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gossamer
Historical Examples
  • "Your hints are always as delicate as gossamer," said Temple.

  • How like is the down of the fruit to the first gossamer down of the heart—and ah!

  • But only stoop—catch the light thwartwise—and all is a silver network of gossamer!

    The Golden Age Kenneth Grahame
  • You know how they capture the creatures on which they live; by weaving webs of gossamer, is it not?

    The Memorabilia Xenophon
  • The gossamer floatings of this French danseuse possessed 258 everyone.

    The Strollers Frederic S. Isham
  • Why, it is more idle than the passing wind, lighter than the down of the gossamer.

    Ernest Linwood Caroline Lee Hentz
  • For weeks it hung trembling on a thread slender and weak as the gossamer's web.

    Ernest Linwood Caroline Lee Hentz
  • It is like the pursuit of the gossamer, which the least breath sweeps away.

    Barn and the Pyrenees

    Louisa Stuart Costello
  • I have no idea what place these gossamer threads occupy in the economy of nature.

    Gossamer George A. Birmingham
  • Why, that he had not been tied down by ropes at all, but only by thousands of gossamer webs!

    Cornwall's Wonderland

    Mabel Quiller-Couch
British Dictionary definitions for gossamer

gossamer

/ˈɡɒsəmə/
noun
1.
a gauze or silk fabric of the very finest texture
2.
a filmy cobweb often seen on foliage or floating in the air
3.
anything resembling gossamer in fineness or filminess
4.
(modifier) made of or resembling gossamer: gossamer wings
Derived Forms
gossamery, adjective
Word Origin
C14 (in the sense: a filmy cobweb): probably from gosgoose1 + somersummer1; the phrase refers to St Martin's summer, a period in November when goose was traditionally eaten; from the prevalence of the cobweb in the autumn; compare German Gänsemonat, literally: goosemonth, used for November
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 gossamer
n.

c.1300, "spider threads spun in fields of stubble in late fall," apparently from gos "goose" + sumer "summer" (cf. Swedish sommertrad "summer thread"). The reference might be to a fancied resemblance of the silk to goose down, or because geese are in season then. The German equivalent mädchensommer (literally "girls' summer") also has a sense of "Indian summer," and the English word originally may have referred to a warm spell in autumn before being transferred to a phenomenon especially noticable then. Cf. obsolete Scottish go-summer "period of summer-like weather in late autumn." Meaning "anything light or flimsy" is from c.1400. The adjective sense "filmy" is attested from 1802.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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