[ gey-luh, gal-uh; especially British gah-luh ]
/ ˈgeɪ lə, ˈgæl ə; especially British ˈgɑ lə /


festive; festal; showy: Her birthday parties were always gala occasions.


a festive occasion; celebration; special entertainment: a gala featuring opera stars in their most famous scenes.
festal pomp or dress.

Origin of gala

1615–25; < French < Italian < Old French; see gallant Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gala

British Dictionary definitions for gala


/ (ˈɡɑːlə, ˈɡeɪlə) /


  1. a celebration; festive occasion
  2. (as modifier)a gala occasion
mainly British a sporting occasion involving competitions in several eventsa swimming gala

Word Origin for gala

C17: from French or Italian, from Old French gale pleasure, from Old French galer to make merry, probably of Germanic origin; compare gallant
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 gala



1620s, "festive dress or attire," from French en gala, perhaps from Old French gale "merriment," from galer "rejoice, make merry" (see gallant). Klein suggests the French word is from Italian gala (as in phrase vestito di gala "robe of state"), perhaps from Arabic khil'a "fine garment given as a presentation." Sense of "festive occasion" (characterized by display of finery) first recorded 1777.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper