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Etymology 1[edit]

From the Old Norse gaukr (cuckoo).


  • IPA(key): /ɡaʊk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊk


gowk (plural gowks)

  1. (Northern England, Scotland) A cuckoo.
  2. A fool.
    • 1816, Sir Walter Scott, chapter 8, in Old Mortality:
      "Ill-fard, crazy, crack-brained gowk, that she is!" exclaimed the housekeeper.
    • 1971, Richard Carpenter, Catweazle and the Magic Zodiac, Harmondsworth: Puffin Books, page 83:
      "What does it look like?" "Like...like..." Catweazle made boulder-like gestures in the air, "like a wogle-stone, thou gowk."
    • 1976, Robert Nye, Falstaff:
      God has sent me gowks for secretaries.
    • 2016, Kerry Greenwood, Murder and Mendelssohn, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, page 303:
      `You daft great gowk, puttin' yerself in the way of harm after all this time out of a war.'
Derived terms[edit]


gowk (third-person singular simple present gowks, present participle gowking, simple past and past participle gowked)

  1. To make foolish; to stupefy.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Northern Middle English yolke, yholke (yolk; central part), from Old English ġeolca, ġeoloca, ġioleca (yolk), from Old English ġeolu (yellow) + -ca (diminutive suffix). In modern English, the original sense ("the central part of any thing") has gradually fallen out of use, except in relation to apples. Doublet of yolk.


  • IPA(key): /ɡaʊk/, [ˈɡæʊ̯ˀk]
  • (file)


gowk (plural gowks)

  1. (Tyneside) An apple core.
  2. (Tyneside, obsolete) The central part of any thing. [until early 20th c.]