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From earlier gambolde, from Middle French gambade (modern gambade).



gambol (third-person singular simple present gambols, present participle (UK) gambolling or (US) gamboling, simple past and past participle (UK) gambolled or (US) gamboled)

  1. (intransitive) To move about playfully; to frolic.
    • 1835: William Gilmore Simms, The Partisan: A Romance of the Revolution, chapter XI, page 134 (Harper)
      The lawn spread freely onward, as of old, over which, in sweet company, he had once gambolled.
    • 1907, Paul Lafargue, The rights of the horse, page 160:
      […] she remains near him to suckle him and teach him to choose the delicious grasses of the meadow, in which he gambols until he is grown.
    • 1945 August 17, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter 2, in Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, London: Secker & Warburg, OCLC 3655473:
      In the ecstasy of that thought they gambolled round and round, they hurled themselves into great leaps of excitement.
    • 1948, F. H. Lyon, chapter 5, in Kon-Tiki, translation of original by Thor Heyerdahl, →ISBN, page 143:
      [The whales] quite enjoyed themselves gamboling freely among the waves in the sunshine.
    • 1995, Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age: or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, →ISBN, page 286:
      Three girls moved across the billiard-table lawn of a great manor house, circling and swarming about a common center of gravity like gamboling sparrows.
  2. (Britain, West Midlands) To do a forward roll.



gambol (plural gambols)

  1. An instance of running or skipping about playfully.
    • 1843, Edgar Allan Poe, The Gold Bug, page 10:
      When his gambols were over, I looked at the paper, and, to speak the truth, found myself not a little puzzled at what my friend had depicted.
  2. An instance of more general frisking or frolicking.
    • 1819, Washington Irving, The Sketch Book, The Voyage:
      There was a delicious sensation of mingled security and awe with which I looked down, from my giddy height, on the monsters of the deep at their uncouth gambols.





  1. badly beaten up (as of the body)
  2. badly bruised (as of fruits, the body, etc.)

Derived termsEdit