[gey-luh, gal-uh; especially British gah-luh]
festive; festal; showy: Her birthday parties were always gala occasions.
a festive occasion; celebration; special entertainment: a gala featuring opera stars in their most famous scenes.
festal pomp or dress.

1615–25; < French < Italian < Old French; see gallant Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
gala (ˈɡɑːlə, ˈɡeɪlə)
1.  a.  a celebration; festive occasion
 b.  (as modifier): a gala occasion
2.  chiefly (Brit) a sporting occasion involving competitions in several events: a swimming gala
[C17: from French or Italian, from Old French gale pleasure, from Old French galer to make merry, probably of Germanic origin; compare gallant]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1625, "festive dress or attire," from Fr. en gala, from It. gala (as in phrase vestido de gala "robe of state"), perhaps from Arabic khil'a "fine garment given as a presentation." Sense of "festive occasion" (characterized by display of finery) first recorded 1777.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Yesterday was a gala day among our returned veterans.
It was definitely not your run-of-the-mill dance gala.
The gallery was put into gala attire, and the pictures were well hung.
Go to some really big gala event wearing an expensive outfit and looking
  outrageously fabulous.
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