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

  • n. Irish Usury.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Usury.
  • n. A moneylender during the Great Famine.
  • n. A mean, underhanded, corrupt person. Usually applied to politicians.
  • adj. Corrupt, underhanded.


Irish Gaelic gaimbín, diminutive of gamba, smidgen, lump.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Irish gaimbín ("monetary interest"). (Wiktionary)



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

  • I give another quotation from "Disturbed Ireland - Being the Letters Written During the Winter of 1880-81," in particular for the atmosphere generated by the words of Bernard Becker:

    "From the papers the figure turned to a heap as of bank-notes, and there was in the air the chink of money. For the name of this grisly and terribly real spectre is _gombeen_; which, in the Irish tongue, signifies usury.

    May 21, 2012

  • Oh, they do indeed. And it comes with a nicely wrapped package of Burn in Hell, too. Highly effective. :-)

    January 4, 2008

  • I've heard that nuns do a really great LOOK OF DEATH. Never had the good fortune to be Catholic, so I missed all the "fun".

    January 4, 2008

  • She liked to give us the impression that she wouldn't have minded the mess. Chalk it up (sorry) to Catholic school. ;-)

    January 4, 2008

  • Well, the only thing a teacher really needs to do is shoot you is the LOOK OF DEATH. Collecting the heads could get her classroom all messy.

    January 4, 2008

  • Get jennarenn to help you. She's an expert. :-)

    January 4, 2008

  • Why am I beginning to think of a list of teacher words? It's one of the those Word Reality = List Potentiality afflictions. I have it bad :-(

    January 4, 2008

  • I had a teacher who always threatened to "have our heads" when we misbehaved. I used to fancy them all lined up, shrunken to fist size, along the front edge of her desk.

    January 4, 2008

  • I think it's a teacher trick to choose one or two vocab words and beat them to death during the year. I had a geometry teacher who was particularly fond of superfluous. Dawdle is my personal mission for the 07/08 school year.

    January 4, 2008

  • I had a teacher who used this a lot

    January 4, 2008

  • The gombeen woman Eliza Tudor had underlinen enough to vie with her of Sheba.
    Joyce, Ulysses, 9

    January 6, 2007