One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The paired respiratory organ of fish and some amphibians, by which oxygen is extracted from water flowing over surfaces within or attached to the walls of the pharynx.
- ‘Otherwise they have to keep swimming to force oxygenated water past their gills.’
- ‘Fish are subject to a variety of maladies, such as grubs or worms, which may be found in or on the skin, attached to gills, or embedded in the flesh.’
- ‘In fishes there is equivalent ‘ventilation’ of the gills with water.’
- ‘It takes several weeks after hatching to form and until then they are dependent on water absorbed through the gills, the same as any other fish.’
- ‘At fish-cleaning stations, cleaner fish nibble the parasites from the gills and mouths of fishes much larger than they are.’
- ‘White-tailed eagles, which inhabit the same territory, may struggle for hours merely to pry an opening around a fish's gills or front fin.’
- ‘Some others, like the Siamese fighting fish, are capable of breathing air in addition to extracting oxygen from the water with their gills.’
- ‘Barracuda often pump their jaws in order to move water past their gills.’
- ‘Fish, for example, pump water across their gills with their head muscles.’
- ‘These fish do not have gills or opercula (gill coverings) like most bony fishes.’
- ‘To make matters worse, fish have large respiratory membranes, the gills, which expose a huge amount of surface area to the watery medium.’
- ‘When you see an aquarium fish gulping water, or ‘making a gookie,’ you will also see the gill cover opening and the gills fluttering, as water is drawn over the gills and the fish breathes.’
- ‘Apparently squirting fresh water into the gills gets them off.’
- ‘In fish, the branchial apparatus forms a system of gills for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide between the blood and the water.’
- ‘Fish with torn gills die as inevitably as you would if your lungs were shredded.’
- ‘In any fish, when blood cycles through the gills to receive oxygen, it also cools to the temperature of the surrounding water.’
- ‘Cold, foamy water hushed over the rocks, and the gills of the fishes that swam in it caressed the rocks.’
- ‘In fishes and some amphibians, the slits bear gills and are used for gas exchange.’
- ‘Fish start to suffocate out of water and their gills may collapse and bleed.’
- ‘When in the water, they breathe with their gills as most fish do.’
- 1.1 An organ in an invertebrate animal with a similar function to gills in fish and amphibians.
- ‘In addition to two eyes and a mouth, this animal has markings suggesting gills.’
- ‘In some forms the gills were able to remain moist and so allow the animal to move about on land for short periods.’
- ‘Notice the three large gills that the animal uses to ‘breathe’ in its underwater environment.’
- ‘They depend on this to acquire dissolved nutrients from the surrounding water, in much the same way that animals use the large surface area of their gills in order to obtain oxygen.’
2The vertical plates arranged radially on the underside of mushrooms and many toadstools.
- ‘Look for the white cap, stout white stem which detaches easily from the cap, and the pink gills, which turn brown as the mushroom matures.’
- ‘An agaric, such as the common field mushroom, has gills in the form of fine, radiating ‘plates’.’
- ‘He squatted next to her and ran his fingers gently along the gills of one of the large mushrooms.’
- ‘They are quite unlike the radiating ribs of ordinary mushrooms, but serve the same function, i.e. they constitute the gills on which the spores are carried.’
- ‘Agaricus indicates a mushroom with gills, and bisporus refers to this variety's self-sufficiently needing no second mushroom to make little mushrooms.’
3The wattles or dewlap of a domestic fowl.
1Gut or clean (a fish).
- ‘Immediately after this, gut and gill all fish you wish to eat.’
- ‘A small whole bass of anything up to about four pounds gets scaled when caught, gilled and gutted.’
- ‘In an attempt to sell it all, he would visit motor camps, his car towing a trailer loaded with iced, gilled and gutted fish and him shouting, ‘fresh snapper for sale!’’
- ‘Before they put fillet knives in front of American anglers, most of us gutted, gilled and scaled all of our fish.’
- ‘Invaluable for tailing, gilling and holding strange fish.’
2Catch (a fish) in a gill net.
green about (or around or at) the gills
(of a person) looking or feeling ill or nauseous.
pale, pasty-faced, pasty, wan, drained, washed out, drawn, pallid, colourless, anaemic, bloodless, whey-faced, ashen, ashen-faced, ashy, grey, pinched, sickly, sallow, as white as a ghost, as white as a sheet, deathly pale, cadaverous, corpse-like, ill-looking, sickly-lookingView synonyms
- ‘And with her has come the group of Hull youngsters who enjoyed the adventure of a lifetime on the authentic tall ship - green around the gills but smiling broadly.’
- ‘I will come out probably green about the gills and may even be sick.’
- ‘Indeed when Alex got back from the morgue he was looking distinctly pale and green around the gills.’
- ‘He bumbled around working out what he needed, so green around the gills, that one had to laugh.’
- ‘Now I don't particularly remember the end result of this smoking session, but looking back on it now, I can't help thinking they must have felt slightly green around the gills.’
- ‘Everyone was a bit green around the gills by the end.’
- ‘A couple of the lads were looking decidedly green around the gills, some didn't complete the challenge and scored minus points.’
- ‘Debbie turned green around the gills when she was mucking out the pigs.’
- ‘I was quite lucky in that I was timetabled to do my driving test first, whereas other applicants - all looking decidedly green at the gills - had to wait all morning.’
- ‘You've been looking a bit green around the gills lately.’
to the gills
Until completely full.
- ‘At half past one on a weekday the restaurant was less than half full, and still staffed to the gills.’
- ‘The room was stuffed to the gills with trophies and plaques and mementos of the greatest baseball team that ever existed.’
- ‘The town is full to the gills, but we're coping and everybody's having a great time.’
- ‘But they are stuffed to the gills with dollars.’
- ‘The city is packed to the gills during this period, so if you would prefer to see Edinburgh under more normal circumstances, avoid this three-week period.’
- ‘Bigger and better than ever before, the programme is packed to the gills with theatre, music and various street entertainment events.’
- ‘The second advert was stuffed to the gills with jargon sentences.’
- ‘The place is packed to the gills; standing room only.’
- ‘This shop is only 10 or 15 feet wide and packed to the gills with old & new clothes, mostly geared to the retired crowd.’
- ‘Usually those shelters would be packed to the gills.’
Middle English: from Old Norse.
A unit of liquid measure, equal to a quarter of a pint.
- ‘The sets of weights were once the work tools of the county's pound police where they were used to measure the pounds, ounces, quarters and gills of an untold number of items.’
- ‘A tot is a sixth, a fifth, a quarter or a third of a gill of whisky.’
- ‘Rustic enough that the notice over the bar still claimed to serve spirits in measures of 1/6 gill.’
- ‘At school we had a free gill of milk each morning break as part of the government's plan to build a nation of healthy young things.’
- ‘Her cheese pudding has an ounce and a half of breadcrumbs, an ounce of cheese, one gill of milk and half an egg.’
Middle English: from Old French gille ‘measure or container for wine’, from late Latin gillo ‘water pot’.
1A deep ravine, especially a wooded one.
- ‘From the early 10th cent. there was considerable Norse settlement, from Ireland and the Isle of Man, leaving evidence in words like fell, ghyll, tarn, and how.’
- ‘A man who failed to return home from a walk in the Helvellyn area spent the night under a bush in a ghyll as 32 rescuers from three areas searched the entire range for him.’
- ‘After sampling the cheese, walk to the neighbouring village of Hardraw, which is Old English for ‘shepherd's dwelling ’, and view Hardraw Force where Hearne Beck plunges nearly 100 ft into the deep ghyll below.’
2A narrow mountain stream.
stream, small river, streamlet, rivulet, rill, brooklet, runnel, runlet, freshetView synonyms
- ‘It's lovely, you sort of follow a gill that has alders like the River Cover, but almost different trees, small and gnarled and ancient looking.’
Middle English: from Old Norse gil ‘deep glen’. The spelling ghyll was introduced by Wordsworth.
1A female ferret.Compare with hob (sense 1)
- ‘A female ferret is called a jill while a male is called a hob.’
2derogatory A young woman.
Late Middle English: abbreviation of the given name Gillian.
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