One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The paired respiratory organ of fishes and some amphibians, by which oxygen is extracted from water flowing over surfaces within or attached to the walls of the pharynx.
- ‘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.’
- ‘In fishes there is equivalent ‘ventilation’ of the gills with water.’
- ‘Barracuda often pump their jaws in order to move water past their gills.’
- ‘In fishes and some amphibians, the slits bear gills and are used for gas exchange.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Fish, for example, pump water across their gills with their head muscles.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘When in the water, they breathe with their gills as most fish do.’
- ‘To make matters worse, fish have large respiratory membranes, the gills, which expose a huge amount of surface area to the watery medium.’
- ‘In any fish, when blood cycles through the gills to receive oxygen, it also cools to the temperature of the surrounding water.’
- ‘Some others, like the Siamese fighting fish, are capable of breathing air in addition to extracting oxygen from the water with their gills.’
- ‘Fish start to suffocate out of water and their gills may collapse and bleed.’
- ‘Fish with torn gills die as inevitably as you would if your lungs were shredded.’
- ‘In fish, the branchial apparatus forms a system of gills for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide between the blood and the water.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘At fish-cleaning stations, cleaner fish nibble the parasites from the gills and mouths of fishes much larger than they are.’
- ‘These fish do not have gills or opercula (gill coverings) like most bony fishes.’
- ‘Apparently squirting fresh water into the gills gets them off.’
- ‘Cold, foamy water hushed over the rocks, and the gills of the fishes that swam in it caressed the rocks.’
- 1.1 An organ similar to a gill in an invertebrate animal.
- ‘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.’
- ‘In some forms the gills were able to remain moist and so allow the animal to move about on land for short periods.’
- ‘In addition to two eyes and a mouth, this animal has markings suggesting gills.’
2The vertical plates arranged radially on the underside of mushrooms and many toadstools.
- ‘He squatted next to her and ran his fingers gently along the gills of one of the large mushrooms.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘An agaric, such as the common field mushroom, has gills in the form of fine, radiating ‘plates’.’
- ‘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 fowl.
- 3.1gills The flesh below a person's jaws and ears.‘we stuffed ourselves to the gills with scrambled eggs and toast’
- 3.1gills The flesh below a person's jaws and ears.
1Gut or clean (a fish).
- ‘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!’’
- ‘Immediately after this, gut and gill all fish you wish to eat.’
- ‘Invaluable for tailing, gilling and holding strange fish.’
- ‘Before they put fillet knives in front of American anglers, most of us gutted, gilled and scaled all of our fish.’
2Catch (a fish) in a gill net.
green around (or at) the gills
(of a person) sickly-looking.
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
- ‘He was a little green around the gills but he was grinning from ear to ear through sleepy eyes.’
- ‘‘You're looking a little green around the gills!’’
- ‘After spending a few hours at the boardwalk, we headed for home, all of us tired, a few a bit green around the gills.’
- ‘Wall Street is no place for the squeamish, but nowadays, even many long-term, die-hard blue chippers are looking green around the gills.’
- ‘The pies keep coming, and some of the contestants are starting to look a little green around the gills.’
- ‘He was swaying on his feet, a bit green around the gills.’
- ‘That's good because several of my traveling mates appear a bit green around the gills and white in the face this morning.’
- ‘They do great cocktails and shooters, and if you're feeling a little green around the gills you might want to pop to the loo - where the toilet seats are lime coloured too.’
- ‘The very sight makes some men grow green around the gills, hair standing up on their manes like an alley cat meeting a bulldog in a dark alley.’
Middle English: from Old Norse.
A unit of liquid measure, equal to a quarter of a pint.
- ‘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.’
- ‘Rustic enough that the notice over the bar still claimed to serve spirits in measures of 1/6 gill.’
- ‘A tot is a sixth, a fifth, a quarter or a third of a gill of whisky.’
- ‘Her cheese pudding has an ounce and a half of breadcrumbs, an ounce of cheese, one gill of milk and half an egg.’
- ‘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.’
Middle English: from Old French gille ‘measure or container for wine’, from late Latin gillo ‘water pot’.
1A deep ravine, especially a wooded one.
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- 1.1 A 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; a sweetheart.
Late Middle English: abbreviation of the given name Gillian.
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