Definition: Gorget can refer either to the distinctively colored/textured throats of some bird species or to the piece of armor that covered a knight’s throat.

Pronunciation: Gore-jit


The French word for ‘Throat’ is ‘gorge’. A diminutive of this is ‘gorgete’ – or ‘little throat’. When suits of armour became all the rage, French was the language of power. Thus, the word adopted for this part of the suit of armour was based on the French. By the 1500s, the English were referring to the gorget. The link to the word ‘gorge’ also explains how the term came to refer to birds.

When suits of armor became defunct (c. 1700s), military commanders still wore a decorative plate around their necks. This was also referred to as a gorget.

Why This Word?

A couple of years ago, while writing an American travel memoir, I happened upon a most bizarre statue: the world’s largest Greater Prairie Chicken in Rothsay, Minnesota. And the Rothsay Prairie Chicken does not disappoint when it comes to its gorget. The orange gorget of the Prairie Chicken inflates with air during a mating ritual and produces a large ‘booming’ sound. Indeed, the mating locations are known as ‘booming grounds’ – which – in case there are any entrepreneurs reading this – is a great name for a night club (particularly if you’re going for that edgy, New York style of night-club that references poultry …)

How to use the word gorget in a sentence?

I fail to see any reason why this word cannot be re-introduced into the fashion world referring to any decorative item – necklace aside – that is worn around the neck. Try it out yourself. The next time someone compliments you on your neckwear, respond with “Oh thank you – I got this gorget as a gift from my ….”


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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