• noun a long deep cut made accidentally by something sharp
  • verb to make a long deep cut in something accidentally


  • adjective spare, available. This now almost obsolete use of the word was common in the armed services in the 1950s and probably has the same origins as the following senses.
  • adjective attractive, impressive. The origin of this sub-sense of gash is obscure, but may be inspired by the attractiveness of ‘spare’ or available women. It was heard among working-class Londoners until the late 1960s.
  • adjective useless, worn out, broken. In this sense gash is still heard, especially in London, among workmen, technicians, musicians, etc. and in the armed forces.

Origin & History of “gash”

Greek kharássein meant ‘sharpen, engrave, cut’ (it gave English character). It was borrowed into Latin as charaxāre, which appears to have found its way into Old Northern French as garser ‘cut, slash’. English took this over as garse, which survived, mainly as a surgical term meaning ‘make incisions’, into the 17th century. An intermediate form garsh, recorded in the 16th century, suggests that this was the source of modern English gash.