Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n.pl. Loosely fitting hose or breeches worn in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • n.pl. Loose trousers.
  • n.pl. Chiefly British Leggings.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. large, loose breeches. A fashion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.pl. Loose hose or breeches; leather leg quards. The word is used loosely and often in a jocose sense.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A fashion of hose or slops worn in the sixteenth century. Also called gregs, venetians, and gaskins.
  • Leather guards worn on the legs by sportsmen.

Etymologies

Perhaps alteration (influenced by galley and Gascon) of French garguesques, variant of greguesques, from Spanish gregüescos, from griego, Greek, from Latin Graecus; see Greek.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • “Gown and galligaskins!” responded the Refectioner.

    The Monastery

  • Sir, he secured my spare doublet, and had a pluck at my galligaskins — I was enforced to beat a retreat before I was altogether unrigged.

    The Monastery

  • He was generally seen trooping like a colt at his mother's heels, equipped in a pair of his father's cast-off galligaskins, which he had much ado to hold up with one hand, as a fine lady does her train in bad weather.

    The Short-story

  • _Tin_, or rather _Thin_, Breeches; whence they infer that the original bearer of it was a poor but merry rogue, whose galligaskins were none of the soundest, and who, peradventure, may have been the author of that truly philosophical stanza:

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 8

  • Neither did they establish their claims to gentility at the expense of their tailors, for as yet those offenders against the pockets of society and the tranquility of all aspiring young gentlemen were unknown in New Amsterdam; every good housewife made the clothes of her husband and family, and even the goede vrouw of Van Twiller himself thought it no disparagement to cut out her husband's linsey-woolsey galligaskins.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 8

  • The stang is of Saxon origin, and is practised in Lancashire, Cumberland, and Westmoreland, for the purpose of exposing a kind of gyneocracy, or, the wife wearing the galligaskins.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 13, No. 353, January 24, 1829

  • He was generally seen trooping like a colt at his mother's heels, equipped in a pair of father's cast-off galligaskins, which he had much ado to hold up with, one hand, as

    Elson Grammar School Literature v4

  • "Call you," said Dudley, "the accidental shaping of a ruff, or the manner of disposing of the folds of my galligaskins, an imitation of a prelatical model?"

    The Knight of the Golden Melice A Historical Romance

  • QUOTATION: My galligaskins, that have long withstood

    Quotations

  • He was generally seen trooping like a colt at his mother’s heels, equipped in a pair of his father’s cast-off galligaskins, which he had much ado to hold up with one hand, as a fine lady does her train in bad weather.

    Rip Van Winkle, a Posthumous Writing of Diedrich Knickerbocker

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Comments

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  • Qroqqa's the new me. :)

    Edit: See also galligaskin, galleygaskin, gallygaskin.

    October 1, 2008

  • Thanks, that's wonderful.

    Are you the new qroqqa?

    October 1, 2008

  • Sorry bilby, forgot to post the OED's notes on etymology, which is what you asked for in the first place... Here they are:

    app. an interpretative corruption of the 16th c. F. garguesque, a metathetic var. of greguesque, ad. It. grechesca n., originally fem. of grechesco Greek (this kind of hose being in 16th c. described as alla grechesca = F. à la grecque in the Greek fashion). The surviving Fr. word in this sense is grègue, ad. Pr. grega or Sp. griega, orig. the fem. of the adj., Pr. grego, Sp. griego, Greek.
    The form garragascoynes seems to prove that the Fr. word is really the source. The synonymous gally-breeches, gally-slops (see GALLY a.1 or n.) occur earlier than, and gasco(y)n, GASKIN1, about the same time with, the present word. If they are really older, the perversion of garguesque into galligaskin is fully accounted for. They may, however, have originated in a false analysis of galligaskin, which in that case must have been corrupted from garguesque by the influence of GASCON and GALLEY n. (less probably L. Galli-, Gallus, GAUL, or gally GALLOWS n. in the sense ‘braces’). The early examples associate galligaskins with ‘shipmen's hose’, and imply that the fashion belonged to the south of Europe, so that it would be very natural for popular etymology to connect the word with galley.

    October 1, 2008

  • OED lists galligaskin: (You should also see gallygaskins)

    1. A kind of wide hose or breeches worn in the 16th and 17th c.; later, a more or less ludicrous term for loose breeches in general. a. sing. Also attrib. in galligaskin breeches.

    1577 HOLINSHED Chron. II. 1859/1 Galeygascoyne breeches all of Crimosyn satyn. 1592 Def. Conny Catching (1859) 57 The venetian and the gallogascaine is stale, and trunke slop out of use. 1610 ROWLANDS Martin Mark-all 27 Their hose sometimes Spanish, like to Shipmens hose, and sometimes close to the buttocke like the Venetian galligascoigne.
    b. pl.

    1577 HARRISON England II. xxii. (1877) I. 343 A well-burnished gentleman..hath borne threescore at once in one paire of galigascons. 1581 B. RICH Farewell Mil. Prof. Conclusion Ddiij, In their Hoose so many fashions as I can not describe, sometymes Garragascoynes, breached like a Beare. 1620 SHELTON Quix. IV. xix. 149 He began to untruss his Points: the Opinion is that he had but one before, which held up his Gally-Gascoins. 1703 J. PHILIPS Splendid Shilling 121 My Galligaskins, that have long withstood The Winter's Fury. 1761 STERNE Tr. Shandy IV. xxvii, His whole thoughts..were taken up with a transaction which was going forwards..within the precincts of his own Galligaskins. 1794 in Poet. Reg. (1807) 401 While in Rhyme's Galligaskins I enclose The broad posteriors of thy brawny prose. 1801 Sporting Mag. XVII. 19 His galligaskins have been made by the same needle-jerker. 1832 CARLYLE Misc. (1857) III. 72 What jackets and galligaskins had they.
    2. Leggings, gaiters. dial.

    1859 TROLLOPE West Indies x. 150 He wears a huge pair..of galligaskins..made of thick stiff leather but so as to fit the leg exactly. 1868 BROWNING Ring & Bk. VIII. 43 Gossips too..put galligaskin off At entry of a decent domicile. 1877 N.W. Linc. Gloss., Gallygaskins, gaiters. 1886 ELWORTHY W. Somerset Word-bk., Galligaskins, rough leather over~alls, worn by thatchers, hedgers and labourers.
    3. A variety of the cowslip (Primula veris).

    1629 PARKINSON Paradisi xxxv. 245 There is another kinde of cowslips which doe somewhat resemble mens hose that they did weare and took the name of Galligaskins from thence.
    appositive. 1882 Garden 28 Jan. 56/3 Can any information be obtained as to the origin of the Galigaskins Primrose?
    Hence galligaskined ppl. a., wearing galligaskins.

    1854 WALTER Last of Old Squires xiii. 137 The good old man..with gun in hand from the paper-mill-cover, or galigaskined from the farm!

    October 1, 2008

  • I've come across three substantially different etymologies for galligaskins:

    Dictionary.com - Origin: 1570–80; earlier gallogascaine(s), galigascon(s), of obscure orig.; final element is perh. Gascon (later assimilated to -kin)

    American Heritage Dictionary - Perhaps alteration (influenced by galley and Gascon) of French garguesques, variant of greguesques, from Spanish gregüescos, from griego, Greek, from Latin Graecus;

    Webster's Revised Unabridged - Prob. corrupted fr. It. Grechesco Grecian, a name which seems to have been given in Venice, and to have been afterwards confused with Gascony, as if they came from Gascony.

    Any more speculation while we're here?

    October 1, 2008

  • 'He had somehow picked up a troop of droll children, little hatless boys with their galligaskins much worn and scant shirting to hang out'

    - George Eliot, Middlemarch

    February 21, 2008