Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 1, 2021 is:

gadabout • GAD-uh-bout  • noun

: a person who goes from place to place in social activity


“He always thought death was just around the corner. He had no time to waste. As a young man he had been a gadabout, without focus. ‘Where some in his situation would have found God, Stephen [Hawking] found physics,’ says Mlodinow.” — Marcus Berkmann, The Daily Mail (UK), 24 Sept. 2020

“Here’s where [Bill] Murray enters the picture as Laura’s father, Felix, a semi-retired art dealer and jet-setting gadabout who returns to town just in time to be the devil on his daughter’s shoulder.” — Ty Burr, The Boston Globe, 30 Sept. 2020

Did you know?

If you had to pick the insect most closely related to a gadabout, you might wryly guess the “social butterfly.” But there’s another bug that’s commonly heard buzzing around discussions of the gadabout: the gadfly. Gadfly is a term used for any of a number of winged pests (such as horseflies) that bite or annoy livestock. Since gadflies are known for their nasty bite, it’s not surprising that they are named after a sharp chisel or pointed bar used by miners to loosen rock and ore called a “gad.” But, although a gadabout’s gossip can bite, gadfly doesn’t have any clear etymological relation to gadabout, which traces back to the Middle English verb gadden, whose etymology etymologists are still trying to catch.

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