Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 398 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GALE. 1. (A word of obscure origin; possibly derived from Dan. gal, mad or furious, sometimes applied to wind, in the sense of boisterous) a wind of considerable power, considerably stronger than a breeze, but not severe enough to be called a storm. In nautical language it is usually combined with some qualifying word, as " half a gale," a " stiff gale." In poetical and figurative language " gale " is often used in a pleasant sense, as in " favouring gale"; in America, it is used in a slang sense for boisterous or excited behaviour. 2. The payment of rent, customs or duty at regular intervals; a " hanging gale " is an arrear of rent left over after each successive " gale " or rent day. The term survives in the Forest of Dean, for leases granted to the " free miners " of the forest, granted by the " gaveller " or agent of the crown, and the term is also applied to the royalty paid to the crown, and to the area mined. The word is a contracted form of the O. Eng. gafol, which survives in " gavel," in gavelkind (q.v.), and in the name of the office mentioned above. The root from which these words derive is that of " give." Through Latinized forms it appears in gabeile (q.v.). 3. The popular name of a plant, also known as the sweet gale or gaul, sweet willow, bog or Dutch myrtle. The Old English form of the word is gagel. It is a small, twiggy, resinous fragrant shrub found on bogs and moors in the British Islands, and widely distributed in the north temperate zone. It has narrow, short-stalked leaves and inconspicuous, apetalous, unisexual flowers borne in short spikes. The small drupe-like fruit is attached to the persistent bracts. The leaves are used as tea and as a country medicine. John Gerard (Herball, p. 1228) describes it as sweet willow or gaule, and refers to its use in beer or ale. The genus Myrica is the type of a small, but widely distributed order, Myricaceae, which is placed among the apetalous families of Dicotyledons, and is perhaps most nearly allied to the willow family. Myrica cerifera is the candleberry, wax-myrtle or wax-tree (q.v.).
End of Article: GALE

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