• synonyms


  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 gopher

1785–95; earlier megopher, magopher gopher tortoise; of obscure origin; spelling copies gopher wood
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gophering

Historical Examples of gophering

  • They could not have missed seeing the gophering that the old man had done on the hillside above The Four Pools.

    The Heritage of the Hills

    Arthur P. Hankins

British Dictionary definitions for gophering


  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 for gopher

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



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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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper