Definitions

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

  • adj. Thin and bony; angular. See Synonyms at lean2.
  • adj. Emaciated and haggard; drawn.
  • adj. Bleak and desolate; barren.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. lean, angular, and bony
  • adj. haggard, drawn, and emaciated
  • adj. bleak, barren, and desolate

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Attenuated, as with fasting or suffering; lean; meager; pinched and grim.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Shrunken, as with fasting or suffering; emaciated; lean; thin; haggard.
  • Characterized by or producing emaciation; famishing; attenuating: as, gaunt poverty.
  • To make lean.
  • See gant.
  • n. The great crested grebe or cargoose, Podiceps cristatus.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold

Etymologies

Middle English, perhaps from Old French gant, possibly of Scandinavian origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English gawnt, gawnte ("lean, slender"), probably from a Scandinavian source, related to Old Norse gandr ("magic staff, stick"), from Proto-Germanic *gandaz (“stick, staff”), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰen- (“to beat, hit, drive”). Cognate with Icelandic gandur ("magic staff"), Norwegian gand ("tall pointed stick; tall, thin man"), Danish gand, gan, Norwegian gana ("cut-off tree limbs"), Bavarian Gunten ("a kind of wedge or peg"). Related also to Old English gūþ ("battle"), Latin dēfendō ("ward off, defend"). Compare also Swedish dialectal gank ("a lean, emaciated horse"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Our young-old faces, chiseled and gaunt from the fever and the heat and the sleepless nights, now stare back at us, lost and damned strangers, frozen in yellowing snapshots packed away in cardboard boxes with our medals and our ribbons.

    Balloon Juice » 2002 » February

  • Balding, gray-haired, just five feet eight in his stocking feet, he had what one journalist called the gaunt demeanor of a church elder.

    In the Shadow of the Oval Office

  • Morgan recalled the gaunt anxiety of Mrs. Conboy's eyes, hollow of every emotion, as they seemed, but unrest and straining fear.

    Trail's End

  • For the rest, I recall a gaunt Baptist in wood, said to be by Donatello, on one of the altars to the left of the choir; and the bronze Baptist in the Baptistery, less realistic, by Sansovino; the pretty figures of

    A Wanderer in Venice

  • The preacher at the Cross that day was a Black Friar -- a tall spare man, whom some might call gaunt and ungainly; a man of quick intelligence and radiant eyes, of earnest gesture and burning words.

    For the Master's Sake A Story of the Days of Queen Mary

  • The suspect driving the vehicle was described as a gaunt, white male, with salt and pepper colored hair, approximately 50 years of age and had a deep pock mark scar on his left cheek.

    Carthage Press Homepage RSS

  • He looked "gaunt," Paola said, unshaven and much thinner than the Maziar she knows.

    Waiting for Maziar

  • Well, Arbogast really should un-squeeze his grabs before posting them, but I wouldn't say 'gaunt'.

    A mouth full of teeth

  • It was a frame house, two stories in front, kind of gaunt-looking with the usual porches front and back and on the side, and only one story in back for the kitchen and the dining room.

    Oral History Interview with Harriette Arnow, April, 1976. Interview G-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)

  • As has been finely said the whole church is "gaunt" and unbeautiful; it is a depressing mixture of styles, Roman, Romano-Byzantine, and Gothic; and in studying its one fine detail, a photograph or a drawing is much more satisfactory than an hour's tantalising effort to see the original.

    Cathedrals and Cloisters of the South of France, Volume 1

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.