Definitions

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

  • n. A device usually consisting of two upright posts supporting a crossbeam from which a noose is suspended and used for execution by hanging; a gallows tree.
  • n. A similar structure used for supporting or suspending.
  • n. Execution by hanging: a crime punishable by the gallows.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Wooden framework on which persons are put to death by hanging.
  • v. Third-person singular simple present indicative form of gallow.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A frame from which is suspended the rope with which criminals are executed by hanging, usually consisting of two upright posts and a crossbeam on the top; also, a like frame for suspending anything.
  • n. A wretch who deserves the gallows.
  • n. The rest for the tympan when raised.
  • n. A pair of suspenders or braces.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A wooden frame on which criminals are executed by hanging, usually consisting of two posts and a cross-beam on the top, or of a single post with a projecting arm, from which the criminal is suspended by a rope fastened about his neck: a plural used as a singular, and having the double plural gallowses.
  • n. A similar contrivance for suspending objects.
  • n. Nautical, same as gallows-bitts.
  • n. In coal-mining, a set of timbers consisting of two upright pieces or props and a bar or crown-tree laid across their tops so as to support the roof in a level or in any other excavation.
  • n. In printing, a low trestle attached to old forms of hand printing-presses, to sustain the tympan.
  • n. A central core formed of several cornstalks interlaced diagonally (while uncut) to serve as a stool or support for cut maize which is placed about it in forming a shock.
  • n. plural A pair of braces for supporting the trousers. Also galluses.
  • n. A wretch who deserves to be hanged; a gallows-bird.
  • Reckless; dashing; showy.
  • Very; exceedingly: as, gallows poor.
  • n. Specifically, on the great sheep-raising stations of Australasia, a high wooden frame on which the carcasses of butchered cattle or sheep are suspended; a meat-gallows.

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

  • n. an instrument of execution consisting of a wooden frame from which a condemned person is executed by hanging

Etymologies

Middle English galwes, pl. of galwe, gallows, from Old English gealga, galga.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English Ĕealga. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The Germans call it gallows-humour; the French, 1'humour noir.

    The Irish Mind

  • Stephen Friedman, another London gallery, will show Glasgow-based David Shrigley, an expert in gallows humor whose works include a taxidermied dog.

    Shopping for a New Barbed-Wire Cowboy Hat

  • The ordinary gallows is comparatively humane; the victim falls through a trap and drops far enough to break his neck and he dies instantly.

    The Approaching Climax

  • But anecdotal evidence, as seen in both Reiser's real-life experience and his film adaptation, suggests teens and young adults may be the most open to incorporating humor of the type he describes as "gallows humor" or "so awful it's funny."

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • Hadary's song and dance on the gallows is the one place where everything comes together in a bloodcurdling irony beyond politics and pathology.

    The Killing Of Presidents

  • Alongside the gallows is a box of miniature nooses tagged with inmate ID numbers; these were the personal collection of an employee who participated in 150 executions between 1924 and 1954.

    Next, The Death Penalty Wing

  • In addition to the laugh and I do agree with Icanhasyarn that this one looks like a gallows, which is a particularly horrific motif for a birthday cake, I also have the comfort of knowing my birthday cake - since I will be making it myself - will look ever so much more festive and happ.

    One Really IS the Loneliest Number

  • The ultimate extension of this premise, of course, is so-called gallows humor.

    dustbury.com » The Laugher curve

  • "Whether it was the voice and countenance of Mr. Tyson, or the terror of the word gallows, that affected the miscreant, his arm suddenly fell, and he stood as if struck dumb with amazement.

    A Visit to the United States in 1841

  • No one should be surprised if the first group frog-marched to the gallows is the editorial staff of the New York Times.

    Frog-marching the Media to the Gallows

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