Intermediate+ Word of the Day: gobble

gobble (verb, noun) /ˈgɑbəl/ LISTEN

To gobble (often with up) means ‘to swallow or eat quickly,’ especially when you’re very hungry. Figuratively, often with up, and mainly in US English, we use it to talk about reading material or information, meaning ‘to read voraciously and quickly.’ However, to gobble also means ‘to make the sound of a male turkey.’ As a noun, a gobble is the sound turkeys make.

Example sentences

  • I rushed home from work and gobbled up my dinner before going out to meet my friends.
  • Lucy gobbles up books so fast, she'll soon run out of things to read.
  • The turkeys gobble as they run around the yard.
  • James heard a gobble and turned around to find a wild turkey standing behind him.

In pop culture

You may already know that Americans traditionally gobble turkey for their Thanksgiving meal. Of course, this makes Thanksgiving less of a celebration if you happen to be a turkey. Although most Americans do eat turkey for Thanksgiving, it is traditional for the American president to symbolically pardon a turkey every year. That turkey gets to live a free and happy life on a farm after that. Here is an appeal from some turkeys to consider alternatives, set to the music of The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love”:

Did you know?

Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States, always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November (Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving, but on the second Monday in October). It was originally meant to give thanks to God for the harvest, but it is now seen as a secular holiday. In the United States, the holiday marks the “First Thanksgiving” that the Pilgrims celebrated after arriving in the New World in 1621, which is why the meal people eat is made up of food found in America (turkey, pumpkin pie, corn, and mashed potatoes are typical for Thanksgiving dinner). According to the legend, Native Americans peacefully shared their harvest bounty with the Pilgrims. Historians disagree about whether it really happened like that (or even at all), but it became a national holiday after American Independence, when George Washington declared November 26, 1789, a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer.”

Other forms

gobbler (noun)


Gobble dates back to around the year 1600, and meant to ‘eat or drink quickly.’ It probably comes from the Middle English verb gobben (to drink quickly), which in turn came from the Irish word gob (mouthful) in the 14th century. Gobble, meaning the sound a turkey makes, is from the late 17th century, and is probably an imitation of the sound.

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