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Etymology of the French Word Giclée

Before being applied to the spritz of ink from a computer printer’s inkjet, la giclée was a French noun (in print by 1852 CE) with bountiful explosive meanings.

Une giclée could be: a spurt of blood, a burst of machine-gun fire, a splashing with mud — all from the old French verb gicler ‘to spout, to squirt.’ In French computer lingo, one term for the nozzle of an inkjet printer is gicleur.

In modern French slang, giclée means ‘cum shot’ or ‘spurt of ejaculate,’ not surprisingly, considering that the noun giclée originated as the feminine past participle of the French verb gicler ‘to squirt’ or ‘to spurt.’

All those related words hark back to a French verb that arose apparently from Gallo-Roman roots that meant ‘to jiggle.’ The French etymologist Pierre Guiraud supposed that some Late Latin verb like citare ‘to shake’ had a frequentative form like *cicitare where partial reduplication of the root supplies the added meaning of frequency. Guirand suggests this eventually degraded in spoken Proto-Romance to a form like *cicare ‘to shake repeatedly.’ Such a verb could have produced the known Franco-Provençal ancestors of gicler, namely jicler < gigler < ciscler < cisclar < gisclar.

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