GALE. 1. (A word of obscure origin; possibly derived from Dan. gal, mad or furious, sometimes applied to wind, in the sense of boisterous) a wind of considerable power, considerably stronger than a breeze, but not severe enough to be called a storm. In nautical language it is usually combined with some qualifying word, as "half a gale," a "stiff gale." In poetical and figurative language "gale" is often used in a pleasant sense, as in "favouring gale"; in America, it is used in a slang sense for boisterous or excited behaviour.
2. The payment of rent, customs or duty at regular intervals; a "hanging gale" is an arrear of rent left over after each successive "gale" or rent day. The term survives in the Forest of Dean, for leases granted to the "free miners" of the forest, granted by the "gaveller" or agent of the crown, and the term is also applied to the royalty paid to the crown, and to the area mined. The word is a contracted form of the O. Eng. gafol, which survives in "gavel," in gavelkind, and in the name of the office mentioned above. The root from which these words derive is that of "give." Through Latinized forms it appears in gabelle. 3. The popular name of a plant, also known as the sweet gale or gaul, sweet willow, bog or Dutch myrtle. The Old English form of the word is gagel. It is a small, twiggy, resinous fragrant shrub found on bogs and moors in the British Islands, and widely distributed in the north temperate zone. It has narrow, shortstalked leaves and inconspicuous, apetalous, unisexual flowers borne in short spikes. The small drupe-like fruit is attached to the persistent bracts. The leaves are used as tea and as a country medicine. John Gerard (Herball, p. 1228) describes it as sweet willow or gaule, and refers to its use in beer or ale. The genus Myrica is the type of a small, but widely distributed order, Myricaceae, which is placed among the apetalous families of Dicotyledons, and is perhaps most nearly allied to the willow family. Myrica cerifera is the candleberry, wax-myrtle or waxtree (q.v.).
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