Definitions

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

  • adv. With great care or delicacy; cautiously.
  • adj. Cautious; careful.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. Gently; in a delicate or cautious manner.
  • adj. Ginger.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. Cautiously; timidly; fastidiously; daintily.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Softly; delicately; cautiously; mincingly; daintily: used especially with reference to manner of walking or handling.
  • Cautious; mincing; dainty.

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

  • adj. with extreme care or delicacy
  • adv. in a gingerly manner

Etymologies

Possibly alteration of obsolete French gensor, delicate, from Old French, comparative of gent, gentle; see gent1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
(1510) Maybe from Old French gensor, comparative of gent ("nice, kind, pretty"), from Latin gentius ("well-born") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • New Americans tested the label gingerly, often choosing to embrace multiple cultures.

    StarTribune.com rss feed

  • Geoff Nunberg has a post at Language Log on the word gingerly: a NY Times story on Falluja included the statement "it was a gingerly first step," which pleased him by its proper use of gingerly as an adjective thanks to Tim May for catching my original misstatement!

    languagehat.com: GINGER(LY).

  • Geoff Nunberg has a post at Language Log on the word gingerly: a NY Times story on Falluja included the statement "it was a gingerly first step," which provoked his automatic resistance.

    languagehat.com: GINGER(LY).

  • He rose gingerly from the cart - two strokes and a broken hip in recent years make it hard for him to walk.

    Williams honored at All-Star fest

  • He pronounced the word gingerly, distastefully, as if it were a curious, unwonted one.

    The Lee Shore

  • How can such dissimulation (I use that term gingerly) then be blamed on the ones being taught?

    Mormon Stories Podcast Archive

  • "But I saw that fiction--he pronounced the word gingerly, as though it were something dangerous--is perhaps not, as I had thought, merely an inducement to idleness and wicked fancy.

    A Breath of Snow and Ashes

  • But in fact I use that word gingerly the reader is being manipulated.

    Morality, Irony, and Fiction

  • I have this notion that "gingerly" shouldn't be used as an adverb, as in, "she hugged the child gingerly," because there's no corresponding adjective "ginger."

    'Equation,' 'Gingerly' And Other Linguistic Pet Peeves

  • I'll concede that "gingerly" has been used as an adverb for 400 years, and nobody's ever complained about it before.

    'Equation,' 'Gingerly' And Other Linguistic Pet Peeves

Comments

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  • Sounds British. "Agnes was a gingerly gal with milky-white hands and a face like cherry velvet."

    November 6, 2007

  • Peculiarly, this word is both an adjective and an adverb.

    November 4, 2007