1The paired respiratory organ of fish and some amphibians, by which oxygen is extracted from water flowing over surfaces within or attached to the walls of the pharynx.
- Some others, like the Siamese fighting fish, are capable of breathing air in addition to extracting oxygen from the water with their gills.
- When you see an aquarium fish gulping water, or ‘making a gookie,’ you will also see the gill cover opening and the gills fluttering, as water is drawn over the gills and the fish breathes.
- To make matters worse, fish have large respiratory membranes, the gills, which expose a huge amount of surface area to the watery medium.
1.1An organ in an invertebrate animal with a similar function to gills in fish and amphibians.
- Notice the three large gills that the animal uses to ‘breathe’ in its underwater environment.
- In addition to two eyes and a mouth, this animal has markings suggesting gills.
- In some forms the gills were able to remain moist and so allow the animal to move about on land for short periods.
2The vertical plates arranged radially on the underside of mushrooms and many toadstools.
- An agaric, such as the common field mushroom, has gills in the form of fine, radiating ‘plates’.
- Agaricus indicates a mushroom with gills, and bisporus refers to this variety's self-sufficiently needing no second mushroom to make little mushrooms.
- Look for the white cap, stout white stem which detaches easily from the cap, and the pink gills, which turn brown as the mushroom matures.
verb[with object] Back to top
Middle English: from Old Norse.
green about (or around or at) the gills
- (Of a person) looking or feeling ill or nauseous.Example sentences
- I will come out probably green about the gills and may even be sick.
- I was quite lucky in that I was timetabled to do my driving test first, whereas other applicants - all looking decidedly green at the gills - had to wait all morning.
- Indeed when Alex got back from the morgue he was looking distinctly pale and green around the gills.
to the gills
- Until completely full.Example sentences
- The town is full to the gills, but we're coping and everybody's having a great time.
- At half past one on a weekday the restaurant was less than half full, and still staffed to the gills.
- But they are stuffed to the gills with dollars.
- [in combination]: a six-gilled shark
A unit of liquid measure, equal to a quarter of a pint.
- The sets of weights were once the work tools of the county's pound police where they were used to measure the pounds, ounces, quarters and gills of an untold number of items.
- A tot is a sixth, a fifth, a quarter or a third of a gill of whisky.
- At school we had a free gill of milk each morning break as part of the government's plan to build a nation of healthy young things.
nounchiefly Northern English
1A deep ravine, especially a wooded one.
- After sampling the cheese, walk to the neighbouring village of Hardraw, which is Old English for ‘shepherd's dwelling ’, and view Hardraw Force where Hearne Beck plunges nearly 100 ft into the deep ghyll below.
- A man who failed to return home from a walk in the Helvellyn area spent the night under a bush in a ghyll as 32 rescuers from three areas searched the entire range for him.
- From the early 10th cent. there was considerable Norse settlement, from Ireland and the Isle of Man, leaving evidence in words like fell, ghyll, tarn, and how.
Middle English: from Old Norse gil 'deep glen'. The spelling ghyll was introduced by Wordsworth.
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