Borrowed from French gamin (street urchin; young boy),[1] apparently an “eastern dialect” word of unknown origin.[2]



gamin (plural gamins)

  1. (dated, also attributively) A homeless boy; a male street urchin; also (more generally), a cheeky, street-smart boy.
    Antonym: gamine (female)
    • 1854, Alexis [Benoît] Soyer, A Shilling Cookery for the People: Embracing an Entirely New System of Plain Cookery and Domestic Economy, London; New York, N.Y.: George Routledge & Co., OCLC 76167054, page 125:
      Dearest Eloise,— There is one little and perhaps insignificant French cake, which I feel certain would soon become a favourite in the cottage, more particularly amongst its juvenile inhabitants. It is the famed galette, the melodramatic food of the gamins, galopins, mechanics, and semi-artists of France.
    • 1862, Victor Hugo, “The Ancient Soul of Gaul” and “Ecce Paris, Ecce Homo”, in Cha[rle]s E[dwin] Wilbour, transl., Les Misérables. Marius. A Novel. Translated from the Original French, volume III, New York, N.Y.: [George W.] Carleton, publisher, [], OCLC 1007115870, book 2, page 14:
      The Paris gamin is respectful, ironical, and insolent. He has bad teeth, because he is poorly fed, and his stomach suffers and fine eyes because he has genius. [...] To sum up all once more, the gamin of Paris of the present day is, as the grœculus of Rome was in ancient times, the people as a child, with the wrinkles of the old world on its brow. The gamin is a beauty and, at the same time, a disease of the nation—a disease that must be cured. How? By light.
    • 1894, [Robert William Chambers], chapter XVII, in In the Quarter, New York, N.Y.; Chicago, Ill.: F. Tennyson Neely, publisher, OCLC 10484790, page 313:
      Here, in front, the deserted street was white and black and silent, under the electric lamps. All the lonelier for two wretched gamins, counting their dirty sous, and draggled newspapers.
    • 1923, Evelyn Scott, “Part IV”, in Escapade, New York, N.Y.: Thomas Seltzer, OCLC 1078505295, page 135:
      Then—far-off music and excitement. Faces at the windows. Naked yellow gamins begin to dance. [...] Down the square the procession goes, followed by the music, turns a corner, and is lost. The gamins leave off dancing.
    • 2017, Marilyn R. Brown, “The Gamin de Paris and the Revolution of 1830”, in The Gamin de Paris in Nineteenth-century Visual Culture: Delacroix, Hugo, and the French Social Imaginary, New York, N.Y.; Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, →ISBN, pages 39–40:
      According to [Gustave] d'Outrepont, Paris is the boy's metaphoric mother, rocking and nursing him in the streets. Attending all municipal events, street spectacles, and popular theater (where he managed by his wits to get in for free), the gamin is constructed in dualities: child and man, cowardly and brave, serious and laughing, cruel and sympathetic.


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit







gamin m (plural gamins, feminine gamine)

  1. (dated) street urchin, street kid
  2. (colloquial) kid (a child, especially one who is mischievous or plays in the streets)


gamin (feminine singular gamine, masculine plural gamins, feminine plural gamines)

  1. mischievous, naughty

Derived termsEdit

Further readingEdit



Borrowed from French gamin.


gamin m

  1. (Maastrichtian) rascal boy, an imp particularly inclined to mischief


Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of game