General English

General Science

  • noun one of the gills of a fish or other animals living in water, occurring in pairs


  • A fluid measure equal to one quarter of an imperial pint in the standard British and USA system,i.e. 142 ml and 118 ml respectively, and one eighth of a pint in Scotland. To confuse matter further a gill of beer in England is half a pint.

Origin & History of “gill”

English has three separate words gill. The oldest, gill ‘ravine’ (11th c.), was borrowed from Old Norse gil, a word of unknown ancestry. Gill ‘fishes’ breathing organ’ (14th c.) probably also comes from an Old Norse *gil, never actually recorded, but deduced from modern Swedish gäl and Danish gjælle ‘gill’. It may well go back to a prehistoric Indo-European source which also produced Greek kheilos ‘lip’. Gill ‘quarter of a pint’ (14th c.) comes via Old French gille from medieval Latin gillo ‘water-pot’.