Word Confusion: Gait versus Gate

Posted June 10, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I can never figure out if I’m in some animated cartoon or what when I run across a character who has a limping gate. It’d be fun to see what Roald Dahl or R.L. Stine might do with that gate.

What I can’t imagine is someone opening and closing a gait…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Gait Gate
Credit to: Apple’s Dictionary; Merriam-Webster: gait; Dictionary.com: gate

“Phases of Gait” courtesy of Foot Education

“The World is All Gates” photographed by aga_d on Flickr, courtesy of Pinterest

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1; Verb, intransitive & transitive 2

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: gaits
Past tense or past participle: gaited
Gerund or present participle: gaiting

Combined Form 3;

Noun 4, 5, 6; Suffix 7;
Verb, intransitive & transitive 8

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: gates
Past tense or past participle: gated
Gerund or present participle: gating

Person’s manner of walking

Paces of an animal

Verb, intransitive:
Walk with a particular gait

Verb, transitive:
[Animals] Walking in a trained sequence of foot movements

Combined Form:
Combines with -gate (also see Suffix below)

Added to a name scandal resulting from concealed crime or other alleged improprieties in government or business

  • An exposed affair of corruption, venality, etc.

Indicating a person or thing that has been the cause of, or is associated with, a public scandal

Hinged barrier used to close an opening in a wall, fence, or hedge 4

Number of people who pay to enter a sports facility, exhibition hall, etc., for any one event

Device resembling a gate in structure or function

An electric circuit with an output that depends on the combination of several inputs

[Skiing] Opening through which a skier must pass in a slalom course

[Slang] Dismissal

[Archaic] Way, path 5

[North England and Scotland] Habitual manner or way of acting

[Dialect] Method, style 5

[Dialect] The channels by which molten metal is poured into a mould 6

[Dialect] The metal that solidifies in such channels

[-gate] Attached to any word to indicate “scandal involving”

Verb, intransitive:
[Metallurgy] To make or use a gate

Verb, transitive:
[British, be gated] Confine a student to school or college

[Electronics] To control the operation of an electronic device by means of a gate

To select the parts of a wave signal that are within a certain range of amplitude or within certain time intervals.

His limp is affecting his usual gait.

Verb, intransitive:
While your dog must be aware of you, he should not look at you while he gaits.

Have a friend watch your horse gaiting to watch his conformation.

Verb, transitive:
The dogs are gaiting in a circle.

Combined Form:
A major political scandal in the early 1970s, Watergate, brought President Nixon down.

In 1976, Koreagate was a political scandal involving South Korean political figures seeking influence from 10 Democratic members of Congress.

Chinagate resulted in federal prosecutions of foreign influence peddlers who had been trying to buy a night at the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House.

Radical Rightists and the not-so-Reverend Jerry Falwell received illegal funds in Moongate.

Just open the gate!

What’s the gate on today’s event?

She was so mad, she gave him the gate.

They’ve been lettin’ people go at the factory, and Pete was one of those who got the gate.

There are “various forms of electrolyte-containing dielectrics that are employed as a gate-insulating medium” (Scientific Reports).

“Camillagate was a scandal which broke in the British tabloids in 1992, when a transcript of an explicit telephone conversation between Charles, Prince of Wales, and his mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles, was published (Wise Geek).

Verb, intransitive:
It’s gating at 40 m/sec.

Verb, transitive:
He was gated for the rest of term.

They’re gating the ion channel.

Adjective: gateless, gatelike
Noun: gatecrasher, gated, gatehouse, gatekeeper, gatekeeping, gateman, gatepost, gateway
Verb, transitive: gatecrash
History of the Word:
1 First known use: 1509

Late Middle English gait, gate meaning gate, way

2 First known use: around 1900

3 1972, -gate was extracted from Watergate, nonce word, created as a result of a journalistic coinage to name major scandals.

4 First known use: before 12th century

Middle English from the Old English geat and akin to Old Norse gat meaning opening

5 First known use: 13th century

Middle English, from the Old Norse gata meaning road and akin to the Old High German gazza meaning road

6 Probably related to the Old English gyte meaning a pouring out, from geotan meaning to pour.

7 1973, abstracted from Watergate, the Washington, D.C., building complex, home of the National Headquarters of the Democratic Party when it was burglarized June 17, 1972, by operatives later found to be working for the staff and re-election campaign of U.S. President Richard Nixon.

8 First known use: 1835

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Horse Jumping” by Eadweard Muybridge, Waugsberg, and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

8 responses to “Word Confusion: Gait versus Gate

    • Oh dear, I am sorry to hear that you’ve encountered it so often. And thanks for the re-blog…it can only help make writers aware!

  1. One of my favorites I once encountered was “The horse was eating juicy chutes.” I also once used “horde” for “hoard.” It would have been difficult to get a bunch of barbarians into that little container! In fact, most of us know better, but we either aren’t thinking or the fingers simply betray us.

    • LOL, maybe the wood was just really fresh! I do know the finger-betrayal—my current one is typing form for from. I’m thinking it’s that right hand dominance…