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gopher1

[goh-fer]
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noun
  1. any of several ground squirrels of the genus Citellus, of the prairie regions of North America.
  2. pocket gopher.
  3. gopher tortoise.
  4. gopher snake.
  5. (initial capital letter) a native or inhabitant of Minnesota (used as a nickname).
  6. (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.
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verb (used without object)
  1. Mining.
    1. to mine unsystematically.
    2. to enlarge a hole, as in loose soil, with successively larger blasts.
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Origin of gopher1

1785–95; earlier megopher, magopher gopher tortoise; of obscure origin; spelling copies gopher wood

gopher2

[goh-fer]
noun Slang.
  1. gofer.
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Origin of gopher2

1925–30; respelling of gofer by association with gopher1

gofer

or go-fer, go·pher

[goh-fer]
noun Slang.
  1. an employee whose chief duty is running errands.
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Origin of gofer

1965–70; respelling of go for (verb phrase), with -er representing both vowel reduction in for and -er1
Can be confusedgofer gopher
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

martyrfatalitycasualtysuffererslaveservantserfpeasantdrudgelaborergopherfarmhandgudgeonunderdogstoogepawngullimmolationdupepatsy

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British Dictionary definitions for gopher

gopher

noun
  1. 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
  2. another name for ground squirrel
  3. any burrowing tortoise of the genus Gopherus, of SE North America
  4. gopher snake another name for bull snake
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Word Origin

C19: shortened from earlier megopher or magopher, of obscure origin

gofer

noun
  1. slang, mainly US and Canadian an employee or assistant whose duties include menial tasks such as running errands
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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

Word Origin and History for gopher

n.

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.

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gofer

n.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper