Definitions

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

  • n. A soft sheer gauzy fabric.
  • n. Something delicate, light, or flimsy.
  • n. A fine film of cobwebs often seen floating in the air or caught on bushes or grass.
  • adj. Sheer, light, delicate, or tenuous. See Synonyms at airy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fine film or strand as of cobwebs, floating in the air or caught on bushes etc.
  • n. A soft, sheer fabric.
  • n. Anything delicate, light and flimsy.
  • adj. Tenuous, light, filmy or delicate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fine, filmy substance, like cobwebs, floating in the air, in calm, clear weather, especially in autumn. It is seen in stubble fields and on furze or low bushes, and is formed by small spiders.
  • n. Any very thin gauzelike fabric; also, a thin waterproof stuff.
  • n. An outer garment, made of waterproof gossamer.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A fine filmy substance, consisting of cobweb formed by various small spiders, and only, according to some, when they are young.
  • n. A variety of gauze, softer and stronger than the ordinary kind, much used for veils.
  • n. Any thin or light material or fabric; also, a garment made of such material; specifically, a thin water-proof outer wrap, especially for women.
  • n. A mere trifle; a flimsy, trivial matter.
  • Thin and light as gossamer; light: as, a gossamer waterproof or coat.

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

  • n. a gauze fabric with an extremely fine texture
  • adj. characterized by unusual lightness and delicacy
  • n. filaments from a web that was spun by a spider
  • adj. so thin as to transmit light

Etymologies

Middle English gossomer : gos, goose; see goose + somer, summer (probably from the abundance of gossamer during early autumn when geese are in season); see summer1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English gossomer, from gos ("goose") + somer ("summer"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • They would laugh in gossamer tones, and then move on gracefully to someone else, sometimes moving gracefully at speeds exceeding 40 mph.

    Random Ferrettage, Part Deux: Costuming My Whatever-You-Call-Her

  • It seems the gossamer should be able to accomplish this with out giving you too much bulk, though it's all purely hypothetical on my part.

    Jean's Knitting

  • Professor Rhys, in his Welsh Fairy Tales -- _Y Cymmrodor_ vol. v., p. 75 -- says, that gossamer, which is generally called in North Wales

    Welsh Folk-Lore a Collection of the Folk-Tales and Legends of North Wales

  • The gossamer is a sign both of approaching autumn and, exactly at the opposite season of the year, of approaching spring.

    Nature Near London

  • The remark that I shall make on these cobweb-like appearances, called gossamer, is, that, strange and superstitious as the notions about them were formerly, nobody in these days doubts but that they are the real production of small spiders, which swarm in the fields in fine weather in autumn, and have a power of shooting out webs from their tails so as to render themselves buoyant, and lighter than air.

    The Natural History of Selborne, Vol. 2

  • It's not easy to put this kind of gossamer dynamic into words, but it was as if the African American population possessed a kind of subconscious forgiveness for the whites around them.

    ��obamanos!

  • The aeronautic spiders are known as "gossamer" spiders, because of the extreme lightness of the filaments that they cast out to the wind.

    The Book of the Damned

  • Agostino and Laura, laughing in their hearts at the mother's mysterious veneration for Carlo, had to explain that 'gossamer' was a poetic, generic term, to embrace the lighter qualities of masculine youth.

    Vittoria — Complete

  • Mukhát al-Shaytan (Satan's snivel), = our "gossamer" = God's summer

    Arabian nights. English

  • The attention called into her guest's face a pleasurable glow; he met her with caution, and replied to her in his softest tones, as if there was a kind of gossamer happiness hanging in the air which he feared to disturb by drawing too deep a breath.

    Villette

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