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a girth


From Middle English girth, gerth, gyrth, from Old Norse gjǫrð, from Proto-Germanic *gerdō, from Proto-Indo-European *gʰerdʰ- (to encircle, enclose; belt). Cognate with Gothic 𐌲𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌳𐌰 (gairda), Icelandic gjörð. Also related to German Gurt, English gird, Albanian ngërthej (to tie, bind, fasten).



girth (countable and uncountable, plural girths)

  1. A band passed under the belly of an animal, which holds a saddle or a harness saddle in place.
    • 1929, Baldwyn Dyke Acland, chapter 8, in Filibuster[1]:
      He was standing on the offside of his horse, holding up the flap of his saddle, with the surcingle loosened, and was pointing to the girths. Close to their attachment to the saddle they had been almost cut through with a knife.
  2. The part of an animal around which the girth fits.
  3. (informal) One's waistline circumference, most often a large one.
    • 1716 March 16 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Addison, “The Free-holder: No. 22. Monday, March 5. [1716.]”, in The Works of the Right Honourable Joseph Addison, Esq; [], volume IV, London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], published 1721, →OCLC:
      He's a lusty, jolly fellow, that lives well, at least three yards in the girth.
  4. A small horizontal brace or girder.
  5. The distance measured around an object.
  6. (graph theory) The length of the shortest cycle in a graph.


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Derived terms[edit]



girth (third-person singular simple present girths, present participle girthing, simple past and past participle girthed)

  1. To bind as if with a girth or band.


Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]



  1. Alternative form of grith

Etymology 2[edit]



  1. Alternative form of gerth