verb (used without object)

  1. to stare stupidly; gape: The onlookers gawked at arriving celebrities.


  1. an awkward, foolish person.


  1. a clumsy stupid person; lout


  1. (intr) to stare in a stupid way; gape

1785, American English, perhaps from gaw, a survival from Middle English gowen “to stare” (c.1200), from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse ga “to heed,” from Proto-Germanic *gawon-, from PIE *ghow-e- “to honor, revere, worship” (see favor (n.)); and altered perhaps by gawk hand (see gawky). Liberman writes that it “need not have been derived from gowk. It is possibly another independent imitative formation with the structure g-k. Related: Gawked; gawking.

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