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”).
- enPR: gônt, IPA(key): /ɡɔːnt/
- (some accents) enPR: gänt, IPA(key): /ɡɑːnt/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɔːnt, -ɑːnt
- lean, angular, and bony
1894, Joseph Jacobs, chapter 1, in The Fables of Aesop:
- A gaunt Wolf was almost dead with hunger when he happened to meet a House-dog who was passing by.
- haggard, drawn, and emaciated
1917, Arthur Conan Doyle, chapter 5, in His Last Bow:
- 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.
- bleak, barren, and desolate
1896, Mary Baker Eddy, “The Way”, in Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, page 355:
- The present stage of progress in Christian Science presents two opposite aspects, — a full-orbed promise, and a gaunt want.
1908, William Hope Hodgson, chapter 14, in The House on the Borderland:
- Behind me, rose up, to an extraordinary height, gaunt, black cliffs.