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[gos-uh-mer] /ˈgɒs ə mər/
a fine, filmy cobweb seen on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather, especially in autumn.
a thread or a web of this substance.
an extremely delicate variety of gauze, used especially for veils.
any thin, light fabric.
something extremely light, flimsy, or delicate.
a thin, waterproof outer garment, especially for women.
Also, gossamery
[gos-uh-muh-ree] /ˈgɒs ə mə ri/ (Show IPA),
gossamered. of or like gossamer; thin and light.
Origin of gossamer
1275-1325; Middle English gosesomer (see goose, summer1); possibly first used as name for late, mild autumn, a time when goose was a favorite dish (compare German Gänsemonat November), then transferred to the cobwebs frequent at that time of year Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for gossamer
Historical Examples
  • Fascinated, he watched the heavy dark drop hang in the glistening cloud, and pull down the gossamer.

    Sons and Lovers David Herbert Lawrence
  • How like is the down of the fruit to the first gossamer down of the heart—and ah!

  • When tens of thousands of the used threads sink to earth, there is a "shower of gossamer."

  • You know how they capture the creatures on which they live; by weaving webs of gossamer, is it not?

    The Memorabilia Xenophon
  • He isn't the kind of a man to put on his wife's gossamer cloak and meander over into Montana.

    Remarks Bill Nye
  • The gossamer floatings of this French danseuse possessed 258 everyone.

    The Strollers Frederic S. Isham
  • Here we may fashion pictures and weave around them gossamer draperies as insubstantial as this golden twilight.

    The Broken Sword Dennison Worthington
  • I have no idea what place these gossamer threads occupy in the economy of nature.

    Gossamer George A. Birmingham
  • Toward sunset a delicate network of gossamer threads covered the open pastures like a silver mesh in which the earth lay captive.

    In the Open Stanton Davis Kirkham
  • They dragged him through the crisis, but his life hung on a gossamer thread.

    Mary Barton Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
British Dictionary definitions for gossamer


a gauze or silk fabric of the very finest texture
a filmy cobweb often seen on foliage or floating in the air
anything resembling gossamer in fineness or filminess
(modifier) made of or resembling gossamer: gossamer wings
Derived Forms
gossamery, adjective
Word Origin
C14 (in the sense: a filmy cobweb): probably from gosgoose1 + somersummer1; the phrase refers to St Martin's summer, a period in November when goose was traditionally eaten; from the prevalence of the cobweb in the autumn; compare German Gänsemonat, literally: goosemonth, used for November
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 gossamer

c.1300, "spider threads spun in fields of stubble in late fall," apparently from gos "goose" + sumer "summer" (cf. Swedish sommertrad "summer thread"). The reference might be to a fancied resemblance of the silk to goose down, or because geese are in season then. The German equivalent mädchensommer (literally "girls' summer") also has a sense of "Indian summer," and the English word originally may have referred to a warm spell in autumn before being transferred to a phenomenon especially noticable then. Cf. obsolete Scottish go-summer "period of summer-like weather in late autumn." Meaning "anything light or flimsy" is from c.1400. The adjective sense "filmy" is attested from 1802.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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