[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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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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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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