GAZABO.

No, not “gazebo”: it’s a slang term from the early part of the last century meaning ‘guy, fellow’ or (according to Howard N. Rose’s 1934 A Thesaurus of Slang) ‘a friend or companion.’ Jack London in Valley of the Moon (1913) uses it thus: “By the sixth round the wise gazabos was offerin’ two to one against me.” I came across it in a poem by Edwin Honig, “The Gazabos.” The poem is a bit long to quote in full here, but it can be found online (a page with a large number of poems; search on “gazabos” or scroll to about two-thirds down). Here is the beginning:

I saw them dancing,
the gazabos, apes of joy, swains of
their pocket mirrors, to each a world:
a dancing, a gallumphing, a guzzling
of themselves.
They yapped, they cooed,
they flapped their feet and winked grimaces
into grins. They rapped their knuckles on
their teeth and bled and licked
the blood like honey.
Turning the corner
to my street, I spat on each
gazabo as they came. They loved it,
they could barely keep
from following….

Comments

  1. I mourn for the comments that were eaten by the original platform of this blog.

  2. kathrine says:

    My great aunt, born in 1890, used to use ‘gazabo’ for a guy who was kind of an awkward, odd duck or somebody who was sketchy or louche. She was born in Norway but learned English as a child in San Francisco and the East Bay where Jack London who also used this term in one of his books, was from. I’ve heard it may have a Spanish origin in a word that I think is spelled gazapo and means a sharpie or deceitful person. I’ve always been curious about it. My mother, born in 1923 in Seattle used it too, and I wonder if it is a West Coast regional thing.

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