Recently I posted an answer about the etymology of goodbye, in that answer I included a reference that cited Gid be with you, which was dated 1400-1499. The phrase was mentioned in Diachronic Pragmatics: Seven case studies in English illocutionary development, and written by Dr. Leslie K. Arnovick

Below I include a cropped screenshot showing the citation in table 6.1, on page 99.

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Sceptical, and fascinated, I wanted to find out more. But try as I did, I could not find any online references that confirmed Gid (meaning God) was Middle English.

  1. Etymonline says

Old English god "supreme being, deity; the Christian God; image of a god; godlike person," from Proto-Germanic *guthan (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch god, Old High German got, German Gott, Old Norse guð, Gothic guþ), from PIE *ghut- "that which is invoked" (source also of Old Church Slavonic zovo "to call," Sanskrit huta- "invoked," an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- "to call, invoke."

  1. Wikipedia's page for God (word) basically repeats Etymonline but in greater detail.

  2. Wiktionary informs that gid can refer to a sheep disease; an obsolete term for a fiddle; or Scots for good. For scrupulousness, I also checked the wiktionary entries for: Dutch gód, Swedish göd, Icelandic goð and Old High German got

  3. Wiktionary also directed me to guid, which is cited in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; however, it is an archaic spelling variant of good.

  4. Merriam-Webster states that the sheep disease called gid is a back-formation of giddy, and dates it from 1601.

  5. Under the etymology of giddy, M-W says

Middle English gidy mad, foolish, from Old English gydig possessed, mad; akin to Old English god god.


  1. Is Gid Middle English for God? Or is “Gid be with you” a misprint?
  2. Did giddy originally mean to be possessed by God?

1 Answer 1


OED does place the etymology of "giddy" squarely as one possessed by a god.

Old English gidig insane, is shown by its guttural initial to be a graphic variant of gydig < prehistoric gudīgo- , apparently < Old Germanic gudom god n. and >int. The primary sense thus appears to be ‘possessed by a god, ἔνθεος ’; compare Old English ylfig insane, lit. ‘elf-possessed’, similarly < ælf elf n.1

Early alternate spellings include "gidie," "gidy," and "gidi."

By 1556, "gid" was a term for a brain illness in sheep, likely related to the implication of insanity. A source cited at 1745 offers "giddiness" or "gid" as a term for this disease:

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The other Day you lost a Sheep by the Gid, or Giddiness.

Nothing I could find in OED appeared to indicate that "Gid" was a precursor of "God," though it seems to have been an alternate spelling at some points in time.


Cognate with Old Frisian god, Old Dutch god (Middle Dutch, Dutch god), Old Saxon god (Middle Low German got, (inflected) gōd-, godd-)

According to Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, "gid" or "gyd" meant a poem, song, proverb, or riddle earlier than the meaning related to sheep illness.

Gid oft wrecen (a song oft sung) [recited], Beo. Th. 2135; B, 1065.


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