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gon·do·la (gŏndl-ə, gŏn-dōlə)
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n.
1. Nautical
a. A lightweight narrow barge with ends that curve up into a point, propelled with a single oar from the stern and used on the canals of Venice.
b. A flatbottom riverboat.
2. A gondola car.
3. A basket, enclosure, or instrument sling suspended from and carried aloft by a balloon.
4. An enclosed structure suspended from a cable, used for conveying passengers, as to and from a ski slope.

[Italian, of Venetian origin, alteration (probably influenced by -ola, feminine diminutive suffix, or by Italian dialectal words akin to Italian dondolare, to rock back and forth) of Old Venetian condura, from Medieval Greek kontoura, kondoura, a kind of small boat (probably so called from a distinctive high or wide stern), from feminine of kontouros, having a docked tail : Late Greek kontos, short (probably back-formed from konto-, taken as meaning "short" in such compounds as Greek kontokunēgesion, a hunt using pikes, or kontobolein, to strike with a pole (that is, at short range, not with arrows or javelins), stem of Greek kontos, pike, pole) + Greek ourā, tail; see ors- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)
gondola
top: on the Grand Canal
Venice, Italy
bottom: cable car at Mount Teide National Park
Tenerife, Canary Islands
(click for a larger image)
gondola

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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