Word of the Day – Gadabout

Word of the Day : February 1, 2021


noun GAD-uh-bout


  • : a person who goes from place to place in social activity

Did you know?

If you had to pick the insect most closely related to a gadabout, you might wryly guess the “social butterfly.” But there’s another bug that’s commonly heard buzzing around discussions of the gadabout: the gadfly. Gadfly is a term used for any of a number of winged pests (such as horseflies) that bite or annoy livestock. Since gadflies are known for their nasty bite, it’s not surprising that they are named after a sharp chisel or pointed bar used by miners to loosen rock and ore called a “gad.” But, although a gadabout’s gossip can bite, gadfly doesn’t have any clear etymological relation to gadabout, which traces back to the Middle English verb gadden, whose etymology etymologists are still trying to catch.


“He always thought death was just around the corner. He had no time to waste. As a young man he had been a gadabout, without focus. ‘Where some in his situation would have found God, Stephen [Hawking] found physics,’ says Mlodinow.” — Marcus Berkmann, The Daily Mail (UK), 24 Sept. 2020

“Here’s where [Bill] Murray enters the picture as Laura’s father, Felix, a semi-retired art dealer and jet-setting gadabout who returns to town just in time to be the devil on his daughter’s shoulder.” — Ty Burr, The Boston Globe, 30 Sept. 2020