[Lexicog] origin of the word "gullible"

Ron Moe ron_moe at SIL.ORG
Fri Jun 17 17:43:33 UTC 2005

American Heritage Dictionary:

gull-2 n A gullible person; dupe; simpleton. tr.v. To deceive; cheat; dupe.
[Probably from dialectal gull, unfledged bird, Middle English golle, gulle,
probably from gul, yellow, pale, form Old Norse gulr. See ghel-2 in

gullible adj. Able to be gulled; easily decieved or duped; credulous. [From
gull (dupe).]  --gullibility n. --gullibly adv.

Of course since we are all lexicographers, we all know how hard it is to
figure out the etymology of a word. Which is probably why AMD starts the
etymology of gull with 'probably'. So, notwithstanding all the jokes about
'gullible' not being in the dictionary, how many of us believe AMD's


-----Original Message-----
From: lexicographylist at yahoogroups.com
[mailto:lexicographylist at yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Allan Johnson
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2005 12:38 AM
To: lexicographylist at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [Lexicog] origin of the word "gullible"

To Lexicography list -

Is anybody aware of any historical connection between the words "guile"
(deceit) and "gullible" (easily deceived)?  It seems quite plausible that
the word "gullible" could have developed from "guile-able".  But I see no
hint of a connection in the online dictionaries I've looked at.

Allan J

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