21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Ghibellines to Grand Prix
Góngora y Argote, Luis de (1561–1627), Spanish poet.
Göteborg (pop. 437,500), second largest city in Sweden and its most important coastal port.
Ghibellines See: Guelphs and Ghibellines.
Ghiberti, Lorenzo (1378–1455), Italian sculptor.
Ghirlandajo, or Ghirlandaio, Domenico (Domenico di Tommaso Bigordi; 1449–94), Florentine Renaissance painter said to have taught Michelangelo.
Ghost dance, ceremonial ritual of a religion originated by the Paiute Indians in Nevada c. 1870.
Giacometti, Alberto (1901–66), Swiss-born sculptor and painter who lived in Paris.
Giant, in myths, human creature of great size and strength; survivor of races that lived before humanity.
Giant panda See: Panda.
Giant schnauzer, largest dog of the schnauzer breed, standing about 25 in (65 cm) and weighing about 76 lb (35 kg).
Giant sequoia See: Sequoia.
Gibberellin, any of a group of chemical compounds that stimulate plant growth.
Gibbon, smallest of the apes, distinguishable by its very long arms.
Gibbon, Edward (1737–94), English historian, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 vols., 1776–88), the greatest historical work of the 18th century and a literary masterpiece.
Gibbs, Josiah Willard (1839–1903), U.S. physicist best known for his pioneering work in chemical thermodynamics and his contributions to statistical mechanics.
Gibraltar, self-governing British colony, 2.3 sq mi (6 sq km) in area, on the rock of Gibraltar at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula.
Gibraltar, Strait of, narrow body of water between Spain and North Africa, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean.
Gibran, Kahlil (1883–1931), Lebanese essayist and philosopher-poet who blended elements of Eastern and Western mysticism.
Gibson, Althea (1927– ), U.S. golf and tennis player, the first black to enter the United States women's tennis championship singles.
Gibson, Charles Dana (1867–1944), U.S. artist, a fashion illustrator who created the “Gibson Girl.” Based on his wife, she was an elegant and high-spirited figure who typified the ideal American woman in the early 20th century.
Gide, André (1869–1951), French writer.
Gideon, in the Bible (Judges), leader and judge of Israel who, by his exploits in repelling the desert raiders, the Midianites, became a national hero.
Gielgud, Sir (Arthur) John (1904– ), British actor, producer, and director, noted early in his career for his Shakespearean roles, especially Hamlet and Richard III.
Gierek, Edward (1913– ), first secretary of the Polish Communist Party (1970–80).
Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum), stout-bodied lizard, up to 2 ft (61 cm) long.
Gila River, river in Arizona and New Mexico, flowing westward and joining the Colorado River near Yuma, Calif.
Gilbert, Sir Humphrey (1539?–83), English soldier and explorer.
Gilbert and Sullivan, English theater collaborators who wrote lighthearted musical satires of Victorian England and the British Empire.
Gilbert, William (1544–1603), English scientist.
Gild See: Guild.
Gilded Age, sardonic name for the post-Civil War period up to around 1880 in the United States, a time of rampant corruption in politics and commerce.
Gilgamesh, Epic of, earliest known epic poem, written in the Akkadian language and originating in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium B.C.
Gill, thin-walled, external respiratory organ of many aquatic animals.
Gillespie, Dizzy (John Birks Gillespie; 1917–93), U.S. jazz musician.
Gillyflower See: Wallflower.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins (1860–1935), U.S. writer and women's rights activist.
Gilman, Nicholas (1755–1814), New Hampshire politician.
Gilmore, Patrick Sarsfield (1829–92), foremost U.S. bandmaster of the 1800s and creator of Gilmore's Band, considered the first great U.S. band.
Gin, cotton See: Cotton gin.
Ginger, herb of the family Zingiberaceae, grown in Japan, the West Indies, South America, and West Africa; also, the spice derived from the root, or rhizome, of the plant.
Gingivitis, inflammation of the gums.
Ginkgo, or maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba), tree with fan-shaped leaves that is often grown in cities because of its tolerance for smoke, low temperatures, and mineral water.
Ginsberg, Allen (1926–97), U.S. poet of the beat generation.
Ginseng (genus Panax), small perennial plant that grows in damp woodlands in Korea and in the United States.
Giorgione (1478?–1510), Renaissance Venetian painter, student of Giovanni Bellini.
Giotto (Giotto di Bondone; c.1266–c.1337), Florentine painter and architect.
Giovanni, Nikki (Yolande Cornelia Giovanni, Jr.; 1943– ), African American poet.
Gipsie See: Gypsy.
Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), tallest mammal, native to Africa, reaching 18 ft (5.5 m), with extremely long neck (up to 7 ft/2.1 m) and legs.
Giraudoux, (Hippolyte) Jean (1882–1944), French playwright.
Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, association promoting fitness, citizenship, outdoor living, and community service among girls.
Girls Clubs of America, association of U.S. clubs designed to assist girls in their physical, emotional, and educational growth.
Girondists, group of middle-class republicans in the French Revolution.
Girty, Simon (1741–1818), American frontiersman called the Great Renegade.
Giscard d'Estaing, Valéry (1926– ), president of France 1974–81.
Gish sisters, U.S. actresses best known for silent films, especially in the pioneering epics of D.
Gissing, George Robert (1857–1903), English novelist.
Giza (pop. 1,870,500), or Al Jizah, Egypt's third largest city, a suburb of Cairo, and the site of the 3 largest pyramids and the Great Sphinx.
Gizzard, thick-walled, muscular part of the stomach of birds that uses gravel to help digest grains and other partly digested food.
Glaciation See: Ice age.
Glacier, mass of ice that flows outward from ice caps or down from above the snow line. Glaciers cover about one-tenth of the earth's land area. They are classified as continental glaciers or ice caps, valley glaciers, and piedmont glaciers. The largest ice caps occur in Antarctica and Greenland. Almost all of Antarctica and about 85% of Greenland are buried by ice. Smaller ice caps …
Glacier Bay National Park, located in southeastern Alaska, covering 3,878,269 acres (1,569,481 hectares), and visited by over 100,000 people every year.
Glacier National Park, created 1910 in the Rocky Mountains in northwest Montana.
Glackens, William James (1870–1938), U.S. illustrator and painter, member of The Eight (the Ashcan School) in New York City.
Gladiator (Latin: gladius, “short sword”), warrior-entertainer of ancient Rome.
Gladiolus, genus of tall erect plants of the iris family with sword-shaped leaves and large flowers, native to South Africa and the Mediterranean area, popular in American and European gardens.
Gladstone, William Ewart (1809–98), British statesman, Liberal Party; 4 times prime minister (1868–74; 1880–85; 1886; 1892–94).
Gland, in animals, organ that secretes essential substances.
Glanders, fatal contagious, bacterial disease of horses, donkeys, and mules that can be transmitted to humans.
Glandular fever See: Mononucleosis.
Glasgow (pop. 684,300), Scotland's largest city and principal port, on the River Clyde.
Glass, hard, brittle, transparent substance composed mainly of silicates. A natural black glass called obsidian occurs when the molten rock from an erupting volcano cools rapidly, androck crystals, made of quartz, are another type of naturally occurring glass. The ancient Egyptians and Romans manufactured glass, and stained glass became important in medieval art and architecture in Europe. The mas…
Glass lizard, or glass snake (genus Ophisaurus), legless, snakelike lizard.
Glass, Philip (1937– ), U.S. composer.
Glasses, or spectacles, lenses mounted in a frame and worn in front of the eyes to correct defects of vision.
Glassware See: Glass.
Glasswort (Salicornia), plant belonging to the goosefoot family.
Glastonbury (pop. 93,000), town in Somerset County, England.
Glauber's salt, trade name of a drug containing sodium sulphate, used as a laxative.
Glaucoma, eye disease characterized by an increased pressure on the retina within the eyeball, caused by an excess of watery fluid.
Glauconite, or greensand, greenish iron-silicate mineral that resembles tiny flake-like particles or little lumps of clay.
Glendale (pop. 180,038), city in California, suburb of Los Angeles.
Glenn, John Herschel, Jr. (1921– ), U.S. astronaut and senator.
Glider, nonpowered airplane launched by air or ground towing and kept aloft by its light, aerodynamic design and the skill of the pilot in exploiting rising air currents.
Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich (1804–57), Russian composer.
Globe Theatre, London open-air public theater where most of Shakespeare's plays were first performed.
Globulin, large family of proteins distributed in plants and animals, insoluble in water but soluble in dilute saline solutions.
Glockenspiel, or bells, pitched percussion instrument, originally a set of graduated bells, but now 2 rows of tuned steel bars on a frame.
Glomerulonephritis See: Nephritis.
Glorious Revolution, events of 1688–89 that led to the deposition of King James II of England.
Gloucester (pop. 27,768), coastal city in northeastern Massachusetts, about 30 mi (48 km) northeast of Boston.
Glowworm See: Firefly.
Gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa), Brazilian plant prized for its colorful, velvety leaves and bell-shaped flowers.
Gluck, Christoph Willibald von (1714–87), German operatic composer.
Glucose (C6H12O6), simple sugar found in certain foods, especially fruits.
Glue, adhesive material produced from vegetable (starch, gum, soybeans) or animal (bones, hides, oil) substances.
Gluon, elementary subatomic particle that holds the parts of protons and neutrons together.
Gluten, mixture of 2 proteins, gliadin and glutenin, found in wheat, rye, and other cereal flours.
Glutton See: Wolverine.
Glycerin See: Glycerol.
Glycerol, or glycerin, colorless, sticky, sweet-tasting liquid alcohol.
Glycogen, animal starch made up of glucose molecules, stored in the liver and muscles, and used to replenish the glucose levels burned for energy in the body.
Glycol, group of alcohols, all of which have 2 hydroxy (OH) groups.
Gnat, small biting fly such as a mosquito, belonging to the order Diptera.
Gnatcatcher, genus (Polioptila) of small, insect-eating birds of the Western Hemisphere, from the Old World warbler family, Sylviidae.
Gneiss, crystalline metamorphic rock, made up of quartz, feldspar, and mica combined in different proportions to produce distinct layers.
Gnosticism, dualistic religious system of early Christians.
Gnotobiotics, laboratory organism that is either free of all known contaminating organisms (bacteria, fungi, yeasts) or specifically contaminated with a known organism.
Gnu, or wildebeest, antelope (genus Connochaetes) with a large buffalo-like head and shoulders, curved horns, and a horse-like body and tail.
Goanna See: Monitor.
Goat, member (genus Capra) of the cattle family and closely related to sheep.
Goatsucker, or nightjar, mostly night-flying bird of the family Caprimulgidae, which includes the nighthawk and whippoorwill.
Gobi, vast desert in central Asia, which extends to North China.
God, in religion, term for the “supreme being.” In polytheistic systems, one god is generally regarded as the ruler of the others. The Hindu pantheon reflects this hierarchy by regarding Brahman as the supreme being, although other gods are worshiped as aspects of his being. True monotheism emerged in the religion of the Hebrews, whose one God, Yahweh, is a personal being with whom t…
Godard, Jean-Luc (1930– ), French film director, a pioneer of the “new wave” school with his film Breathless (1959).
Goddard, colonial American family who worked as editors, printers, and publishers.
Goddard, Robert Hutchings (1882–1945), U.S. physicist, pioneer of rocketry.
Godden, (Margaret) Rumer (1907– ), British author whose novels, poems, and children's books are distinguished by their warm characterization and lyric style.
Goddess See: Mythology.
Godetia, genus of flowering annuals named after the Swiss botanist Charles H.
Godiva, Lady (c. 1040–80) noted for her legendary ride through Coventry, England, to persuade her husband Leofric, earl of Mercia, to reduce heavy taxes.
Gods See: Mythology; Polytheism; Religion.
Godthåb (pop. 11,200; Greenlandic: Nuuk), capital city of Greenland, located on the southwestern shore of the island, on Davis Strait.
Godwin, William (1756–1836), English political theorist and novelist.
Godwit, large wading bird with long, slightly upcurved bill, belonging to the snipe and sandpiper family.
Goebbels, (Paul) Joseph (1897–1945), Nazi propagandist.
Goeduck See: Geoduck.
Goering, Hermann Wilhelm (1893–1946), German political leader and Hitler's deputy, 1939–45.
Goes, Hugo Van der See: Van der Goes, Hugo.
Goethals, George Washington (1858–1928), U.S. army engineer who completed construction of the Panama Canal, 1907–14.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749–1832), German poet, novelist, and playwright.
Gogh, Vincent Van See: Van Gogh, Vincent.
Gogol, Nikolai Vasilyevich (1809–52), Russian short story writer, novelist, and dramatist.
Goiter, medical condition causing the front of the neck to swell, due to an enlargement of the thyroid gland.
Golan See: Cities of refuge.
Golan Heights, strategic area, formerly part of Syria, between southern Lebanon and southwestern Syria.
Gold, chemical element, symbol Au; for physical constants see Periodic Table.
Gold Coast See: Ghana.
Gold Rush, influx of prospectors following the discovery of a new gold field.
Gold standard, monetary system in which a standard currency unit equals a fixed weight of gold.
Goldberg, Arthur Joseph (1908–90), U.S. labor lawyer and public servant.
Golden Age, in Greek and Roman mythology, era of perfect happiness, prosperity, and innocence that preceded recorded history.
Golden Fleece, in Greek mythology, golden wool of a sacred winged ram.
Golden Gate Bridge, bridge spanning the entrance to San Francisco Bay, Calif., built in 1933–37.
Golden Hind See: Drake, Sir Francis.
Golden retriever, gold-colored, thick-coated hunting dog, originally bred in Scotland around 1870.
Golden robin See: Baltimore oriole.
Golden rule, precept stated by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Treat others as you would like them to treat you” (Matt. 7.12).
Golden State See: California.
Goldenrod, tall plant (genus Solidago) with masses of yellow or white flowers that bloom in the autumn.
Goldenseal, or orange root, perennial herb (Hydrastis canadensis) of the buttercup family, found in the eastern United States and in Japan.
Goldfield, village in southwestern Nevada, seat of Esmeralda County.
Goldfinch, small, short-tailed bird (genus Carduelis) of the finch family, also called wild canary because of its musical song and the male's bright yellow color.
Goldfish (Carassius auratus), freshwater fish of the carp family.
Golding, William Gerald (1911–93), English novelist.
Goldman, Emma (1869–1940), Russian-born U.S. anarchist, she emigrated to the United States in 1886 and was imprisoned many times for her activities against militarism, for labor rights, and for advocating birth control.
Goldoni, Carlo (1707–93), Italian dramatist.
Goldsmith, Oliver (1730?–74), Anglo-Irish author.
Goldwater, Barry Morris (1909– ), U.S. conservative senator from Arizona (1953–65, 1969–87), and unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate against Lyndon B.
Goldwyn, Samuel (Samuel Goldfish; 1882–1974), Polish-born U.S. film pioneer.
Golf, game in which players hit a small, hard ball with special clubs on an outdoor course (links), attempting to use as few strokes as possible to deposit the ball into a cup (hole).
Golgotha See: Calvary.
Goliath, in the Bible, a Philistine giant, and a warrior who challenged the Israelites.
Gomorrah See: Sodom and Gomorrah.
Gompers, Samuel (1850–1924), English born U.S. labor leader.
Gomulka, Wladyslaw (1905–82), Polish communist leader.
Goncourt brothers, Edmond Louis Antoine Huot de Goncourt (1822–96) and Jules Alfred Huot de Goncourt (1830–70), French authors who pioneered the naturalist school of fiction.
Gong, disk-shaped percussion instrument, usually made of bronze, which produces sound by vibrating when struck with a special kind of hammer.
Gonorrhea, acute infectious disease of the mucous membranes lining the urethra, cervix of the uterus, and rectum, which may spread bacteria in the bloodstream.
González Márquez, Felipe (1942– ), prime minister of Spain (1982–96) and head of Spain's first leftist government since the 1936 Civil War.
Gonzales, Pancho (Richard Alonzo Gonzales; 1928– ), U.S. tennis player.
Goober See: Peanut.
Good Friday, in Holy Week, the Friday before Easter, the anniversary of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, observed in most Christian churches as a day of fasting and mourning.
Good Hope, Cape of See: Cape of Good Hope.
Good Neighbor Policy, policy initiated by President Franklin D.
Goodall, Jane (1934– ), English zoologist who gained recognition through her years of study and work with chimpanzees.
Goodman, Benny (Benjamin D.
Goodyear, Charles (1800–60), U.S. inventor (in 1839) of vulcanized rubber (patented 1844).
Goose, swimming bird (family Anatidae) related to the swan and duck.
Gooseberry, shrub (genus Ribes) bearing purple berries, originally found growing wild in southern Europe and North Africa.
Gopher, or pocket gopher, burrowing rodent of the family Geomyidae, native to North and Central America.
Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich (1931– ), Soviet political leader who succeeded Konstantin Chernenko as general secretary of the Communist party of the Soviet Union in 1984 and became President of the USSR (1990–g96). Gorbachev had worked his way up through the ranks of the Communist party in the Russian city of Stavropol in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1970 he was elected to the Supreme S…
Gordian knot, in Greek mythology, an intricate knot by which King Gordius of Phrygia joined the yoke and pole of an oxcart.
Gordon, Charles George (1833–85), British soldier, known as “Chinese Gordon.” He helped suppress the Taiping Rebellion (1863–64) in China, and governed the Egyptian Sudan (1877–80), where he established law, improved communications, and attempted to suppress the slave trade.
Gordon setter, breed of hunting dog dating from 17th-century Scotland.
Gorgon, in Greek mythology, term for 3 hideous winged and snake-haired sisters—Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa—who turned anyone who looked at them to stone.
Gorilla, largest of the primates (Gorilla gorilla), native to equatorial western Africa.
Gorki, or Gorky (pop. 1,443,000), now Nizhny Novgorod (renamed in 1990), city in the eastern European port of the Soviet Union, situated at the confluence of the Oka and Volga rivers.
Gorki, Maxim (Alexey Maximovich Pyeshkov; 1868–1936), Russian author.
Gorky, Arshile (1904–48), Armenian-born U.S. painter, pioneer of abstract expressionism.
Goshawk See: Hawk.
Gospel, one of the 4 New Testament books—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—that tell the story of the life of Jesus, written to spread the gospel (“good news”) of Christian salvation.
Gothenburg See: Göteborg.
Gothic art and architecture, the Gothic style of art and architecture flourished in Europe, particularly in France, from the mid-12th century to the end of the 15th century.
Gothic novel, genre of fiction whose terror-laden stories are usually set against a menacing, medieval background.
Goths, ancient Germanic peoples, split into Ostrogoths (East Goths) and Visigoths (West Goths) in the 3rd century.
Gottfried von Strassburg, medieval German poet (late 12th-early 13th century), famous for his unfinished Middle High German masterpiece Tristan (c.1210), an epic based on Celtic legend.
Gottlieb, Adolph (1903–74), U.S. artist, known for his oversized abstract expressionist landscapes, which feature bursts of color.
Gottschalk, Louis Moreau (1829–69), U.S. composer and pianist, internationally celebrated as a virtuoso.
Gould, Glenn (1932–82), Canadian virtuoso pianist, famous for his performances of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.
Gould, Jay (1836–92), U.S. railroad speculator.
Gounod, Charles François (1818–93), French composer, best known for the operas Faust (1859) and Romeo and Juliet (1867), and the song “Ave Maria,” based on Bach's first prelude.
Gourd, any of a variety of plants, chiefly vines, of the family Cucurbitaceae, producing fruit known as gourds that are used as food and utensils.
Gout, recurrent acute arthritis of peripheral joints caused by excess uric acid in the blood and tissue fluids.
Government, system of control and regulation of social activities by the state, also referring to the agency that exercises such control.
Government regulation, government supervision of industry to protect the interests of individuals and society as a whole.
Governor, in the United States, the executive head of each of the 50 states, whose duties and authority usually include responsibilities for the administrative affairs of state, appointment of nonelective government officials and judges, preparation of the budget, and command of the state police force.
Goya, Francisco (1746–1828), Spanish painter and graphic artist. Master of satire, his keen sense of observation and ability to depict reality graphically and with almost savage detail served him from his early works, designing cartoons for tapestries (1775–79), to his later appointment (1799) as court painter to Charles III and Charles IV. However, illness, which left him deaf in 17…
Gracchus, family name of 2 Roman brothers, social reformers and political leaders, known together as the Gracchi.
Grace, in Christian theology, favor shown by God toward sinful and needy people.
Graces, in Greek mythology, goddesses of fertility, personifying charm and beauty.
Grackle, songbird of the family Icteridae, including blackbirds, orioles, and bobolinks.
Grade school See: Elementary school.
Graduate school See: Universities and colleges.
Grady, Henry Woodfin (1850–89), U.S. editor and orator.
Graf, Steffi (1969– ), German tennis player, known for her powerful forehand.
Grafting, in horticulture, uniting of 2 closely related varieties of plants so that they grow as one.
Graham, Billy (William Franklin Graham; 1918– ), U.S. evangelist.
Graham, Katharine Meyer (1917– ), publisher of The Washington Post (1968–79) and head of its parent company, which also controlled Newsweek magazine and several television stations.
Graham, Martha (1894–91), U.S. dancer, choreographer, and teacher.
Grahame, Kenneth (1859–1931), British writer of children's stories The Golden Age (1895), Dream Days (1898), and the classic The Wind in the Willows (1908), featuring animals with appealingly human characteristics.
Grail, Holy See: Holy Grail.
Grain, in agriculture, the dry seedlike fruit of a cereal grass; also, the plant that bears these fruits, including wheat, rice, oats, millet, maize, and rye.
Grain sorghum (Sorghum vulgare), plant of the grass family (Gramineae) producing clusters of small starchy seeds.
Grain weevil, or snout beetle, small destructive beetle of the weevil family that attacks and damages stored grain.
Grainger, Percy Aldridge (1882–1961), Australian-born composer and pianist, a naturalized American from 1914.
Grammar, structures of a language and of its constituents; also, the science concerned with the study of those structures.
Grammar school See: Elementary school.
Gran Chaco, lowland plain in Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia.
Granada, name of a province of southeastern Spain and of the capital (pop. 255,200) of that province.
Granada (pop. 58,100), oldest city in Nicaragua, located on Lake Nicaragua.
Granada, Kingdom of, medieval Arab Islamic kingdom in southern Spain.
Grand Alliance, or League of Augsburg, name of 3 separate European alliances created to control the invasions of King Louis XIV of France.
Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), society of Union Civil War veterans.
Grand Banks, underwater plateau off southeast Newfoundland, Canada, where the Labrador Current and Gulf Stream meet.
Grand Canyon, spectacular gorge cut by the Colorado River in northwest Arizona.
Grand Canyon National Park, U.S. park covering 1,218,375 acres (493,059 hectares) in Arizona, established in 1919 and expanded in 1975.
Grand Coulee Dam, 550 ft (168 m) high and 4,173 ft (1,272 m) long dam on the Columbia River in the state of Washington.
Grand jury, group of citizens who decide whether there is enough evidence to charge an individual with a crime.
Grand National, world's most prestigious steeplechase race held annually since 1839 at the Aintree race course in England.
Grand Old Party See: Republican Party.
Grand Ole Opry See: Country and western music.
Grand Portage National Monument, memorial erected in Grand Portage, Minn., on Lake Superior near the Canadian border.
Grand Pré, historic town in Nova Scotia, Canada, founded by French colonists in 1680.
Grand Prix See: Automobile racing.
Grandfather clause, legal device in Southern states to deny blacks the right to vote by giving it to males with high literacy and property qualifications or to those whose fathers and grandfathers had been qualified to vote on Jan. 1, 1867 (before the 15th Amendment).
Grandma Moses See: Moses, Grandma.