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[gal-ohz, -uh z] /ˈgæl oʊz, -əz/
noun, plural gallowses, gallows.
a wooden frame, consisting of a crossbeam on two uprights, on which condemned persons are executed by hanging.
a similar structure from which something is suspended.
execution by hanging:
a crime deserving of the gallows.
Also called gallows bitts. Nautical. a support on the deck of a vessel, generally one of two or more, consisting of a crosspiece on two uprights, for spars, boats, etc.
Origin of gallows
before 900; Middle English galwes, Old English g(e)algan, plural of g(e)alga gallows; cognate with German Galgen Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for gallows
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The members were the outcasts of every land—the flower of the gallows.

  • No one could get edification from an artistic 451representation of a man hanging on the gallows.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • She threatened the gallows, and handcuffs, and perpetual imprisonment, and an action for damages amidst her lamentations.

    The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
  • At that moment I did feel rather sorry I had saved him from the gallows.

    Carmen Prosper Merimee
  • Silas accompanied the condemned men to Tyburn, and saw the gallows for the first time.

British Dictionary definitions for gallows


noun (pl) -lowses, -lows
a wooden structure usually consisting of two upright posts with a crossbeam from which a rope is suspended, used for hanging criminals
any timber structure resembling this, such as (in Australia and New Zealand) a frame for hoisting up the bodies of slaughtered cattle
the gallows, execution by hanging
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norse galgi, replacing Old English gealga; related to Old High German galgo
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gallows

c.1300, plural of Middle English galwe "gallows" (mid-13c.), from Old Norse galgi "gallows," or from Old English galga (Mercian), gealga (West Saxon) "gallows;" all from Proto-Germanic *galgon- "pole" (cf. Old Frisian galga, Middle High German galge "gallows, cross," German Galgen "gallows," Gothic galga "cross"), from PIE *ghalgh- "branch, rod" (cf. Lithuanian zalga "pole, perch," Armenian dzalk "pole"). In Old English, also used of the cross of the crucifixion. Plural because made of two poles.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gallows in the Bible

Heb. 'ets, meaning "a tree" (Esther 6:4), a post or gibbet. In Gen. 40:19 and Deut. 21:22 the word is rendered "tree."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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