Definition of gingerly in US English:



  • In a careful or cautious manner.

    ‘Jackson sat down very gingerly’
    • ‘I could feel scabs tearing and scratches throbbing when I gingerly sat on the mattress beside her.’
    • ‘With a nod of his head as he inhaled the cigarette smoke, Laurie sat down rather gingerly.’
    • ‘Nicky returned from washing his hands and sat gingerly on the edge of the sofa.’
    • ‘She said nothing and sat up in her bed and folded the paper gingerly in her hand.’
    • ‘The old boy got up rather gingerly, but insisted on playing on.’
    • ‘He went over to the sofa, limping slightly, and sat down gingerly.’
    • ‘She was laughing as Josh gingerly sat down and started a playful wrestling match.’
    • ‘I dumped my backpack in it, and gingerly climbed up and sat behind him on the motorcycle.’
    • ‘I gingerly picked the whole thing up and headed out of the house.’
    • ‘She picked it up under the watchful eye of the stall keeper, and held it gingerly in her hands.’
    • ‘I obliged her request and sat gingerly in the arm chair, turned slightly to face her.’
    • ‘When he returns I'm sitting gingerly in the corner of the very small dance floor.’
    • ‘Andrew sat down at his private table and gingerly threw his napkin into his lap.’
    • ‘She sat down on the floor next to him and gingerly fingered the pages of the book he had in his lap.’
    • ‘Amy leapt gingerly up onto the bed and climbed carefully into Tara's lap.’
    • ‘Gently, gingerly, she picked up the shoe and held it carefully in her cupped hand.’
    • ‘She asked me to take a seat and I sat on the armchair beside her, perching gingerly on the front of it.’
    • ‘Carefully I slip out from under the covers and I gingerly try putting weight on my bad leg.’
    • ‘He jumped as flames licked his tail and sprinted gingerly away, careful to avoid more pain.’
    • ‘Sophie sat up and gingerly slid her hand between the pillow and the mattress.’
    cautiously, carefully, with caution, with care, circumspectly, delicately, warily, charily, guardedly, prudently, judiciously, on one's guard, on the alert, on the lookout, on the qui vive, suspiciously, attentively, heedfully, watchfully, vigilantly, observantly, alertly, cannily
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  • Showing great care or caution.

    ‘with strangers the preliminaries are taken at a gingerly pace’


Early 16th century (in the sense ‘daintily, mincingly’): perhaps from Old French gensor ‘delicate’, comparative of gent ‘graceful’, from Latin genitus ‘(well-) born’.