Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Gallivant


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is gallivant. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Gallivant means “to go or travel to many different places for pleasure.”

// She spent her gap year gallivanting around Europe with her best friend.

GALLIVANT in Context

“Under normal circumstances, most of us can’t drop what we’re doing with zero notice, buy a last-minute airplane ticket, and just show up to gallivant across the country with someone we’re attracted to, without telling anyone where we are.” — Jen Chaney, Vulture, 7 Apr. 2020

Did You Know?

Back in the 14th century, gallant, a noun borrowed from the French word galant, referred to a fashionable young man. By the middle of the next century, it was being used more specifically to refer to such a man who was attentive to, and had a fondness for, the company of women. In the late 17th century, this “ladies’ man” sense gave rise to the verb gallant to describe the process a suitor used to win a lady’s heart, and “gallanting” became synonymous with “courting.” It’s this verb gallant that is the likely source of gallivant, which originally meant “to act as a gallant” or “to go about usually ostentatiously or indiscreetly with members of the opposite sex.” Today, however, gallivant is more likely to describe pleasurable wandering than romancing.

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