[gon-dl-uh or especially for 1, gon-doh-luh]
a long, narrow, flat-bottomed boat having a tall, ornamental stem and stern and sometimes a small cabin for passengers, rowed or poled by a single person who stands at the stern, facing forward: used especially on the canals of Venice, Italy.
a passenger compartment suspended beneath a balloon or airship. Compare car1 ( def 4 ).
an enclosed cabin suspended from an overhead cable, used to transport passengers up and down a ski slope or over scenic or treacherous terrain.
Also called gondola car. an open railroad freight car with low sides, for transporting bulk freight and manufactured goods.
a truck whose bed or trailer is a hopper, as for transporting mixed cement.
a freestanding structure for displaying merchandise in a retail establishment, as a supermarket.
a chair or couch having a gondola back.

1540–50; < Italian < Venetian, probably < Medieval Greek kontoúra small boat used in coastal navigation, noun use of feminine of kóntouros short, clipped, literally, dock-tailed, equivalent to Late Greek kont(ós), kond(ós) short + Greek -ouros -tailed, adj. derivative of ourá tail

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World English Dictionary
gondola (ˈɡɒndələ)
1.  a long narrow flat-bottomed boat with a high ornamented stem and a platform at the stern where an oarsman stands and propels the boat by sculling or punting: traditionally used on the canals of Venice
2.  a.  a car or cabin suspended from an airship or balloon
 b.  a moving cabin suspended from a cable across a valley, etc
3.  a flat-bottomed barge used on canals and rivers of the US as far west as the Mississippi
4.  (US), (Canadian) a low open flat-bottomed railway goods wagon
5.  a set of island shelves in a self-service shop: used for displaying goods
6.  (Canadian) a broadcasting booth built close to the roof over an ice-hockey arena, used by commentators
[C16: from Italian (Venetian dialect), from Medieval Latin gondula, perhaps ultimately from Greek kondu drinking vessel]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1549, from It. (Venetian) gondola, earlier goundel, from O.It. gondula, perhaps from Rhaeto-Romanic dial. gondola "roll, rock." Meaning "cabin of an airship" is 1896, though it was used hypothetically in 1881 in a prediction piece titled "300 Years Hence":
"You step into an aërial gondola ... and are at once borne upwards."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Tricky ascents are conquered by cable car, gondola, and cog train.
When viewed from the gondola, on the other hand, the slopes often looked
  practically empty.
We liked riding alongside the churning river in the open gondola car.
He's the urge, when one is riding in a gondola, to get up and start singing
  with the gondolier.
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