Alternative formsEdit

  • gant (dialectal, Scotland)
  • gent (Scotland)


From Middle English gawnt, gawnte(lean, slender), from Old French, probably from a Scandinavian source, related to Old Norse gandr(magic staff, stick), from Proto-Germanic *gandaz(stick, staff), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰen-(to beat, hit, drive). Cognate with Icelandic gandur(magic staff), Norwegian gand(tall pointed stick; tall, thin man), Danish gand, gan, Norwegian gana(cut-off tree limbs), Bavarian Gunten(a kind of wedge or peg). Related also to Old English gūþ(battle), Latin dēfendō(ward off, defend). Compare also Swedish dialectal gank(a lean, emaciated horse).



gaunt ‎(comparative gaunter, superlative gauntest)

  1. lean, angular, and bony
    • 1894, Joseph Jacobs, chapter 1, in The Fables of Aesop[1]:
      A gaunt Wolf was almost dead with hunger when he happened to meet a House-dog who was passing by.
  2. haggard, drawn, and emaciated
    • 1917, Arthur Conan Doyle, chapter 5, in His Last Bow[2]:
      In the dim light of a foggy November day the sick room was a gloomy spot, but it was that gaunt, wasted face staring at me from the bed which sent a chill to my heart.
  3. bleak, barren, and desolate
    • 1908, William Hope Hodgson, chapter 14, in The House on the Borderland[3]:
      Behind me, rose up, to an extraordinary height, gaunt, black cliffs.