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What is a Goth?

Updated on October 28, 2014

A history of “Gothic”

When people used the word Goth it is seen as a fashion or music, how is it that people forget over time what a word originally meant and how it was meant. Was it used as an insult in the past that society today takes as a compliment? It’s sadly uncommon for people to know the meaning of a word outside of the slang that a generation makes for it. An example are the words Gothic, and Goth, these two words nearly have the same meaning by the 21st century standers. If more people knew what the word Gothic meant they may be more inclined to change the way society today preserves it.

The word Goth originated from Germany, also spelt Gutos or Gutans. The Goths were a German tribe in the 1660’s (The shorter Oxford English Dictionary. 873). The Goths were also used as fodder by Roman before the fall of the Roman Empire and are considered to have brought up about the end of the Roman Empire in the 476 A.D. (The History channel). This was the first known used of the word Goth. The Goths had their own language that is now considered lost. In 1685 the word Gothic was used for those who were allying themselves to the tribe of Goth (The shorter Oxford English Dictionary. 873). These two words that are used interchangeably were for a tribe and their allies at that time.

During 1710 the words Goth and Gothic were replaced with Gothicism meaning a lack of hygiene, and in 1754 the word changed to meaning a style of architecture (The shorter Oxford Dictionary. 873). These words have little in relation, if anything at all. Also another word was brought to life in the 1750’s it was Gothicize (The shorter Oxford Dictionary. 873), it was used to label art based on a dark feeling, it was also used in 1789 to say “to give gothic character” (the shorter Oxford Dictionary. 873).

Today these words mean to wear black cloths, be dark and cold or it is a kind of music that has become popular in the world. Some of these bands are the 69 eyes, who are from finland and have been touring for over twenty years, Yousei Teikoku are from japan, Nighwish, and HIM are also from finland and have been on the scene for many years as well. These bands have taken over a new genre of music and have brought a new twist to music.

As can be seen these words mean a dramatically different things in the 1600’s and the 1700’s then they do now. Though the word Goth has been brought out of context by this generation it has still lasted through the years and is used today.

Works cited

Little William, H. W. Fowler, and Jessie Coulson. The shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 1973.

Page 873

Barbarians: Vikings/Goths. The History channel. Slattery Damina, Nick Jones, Kate Youngdahl, Steven Zorn, and Jonathan Grupper. 2004.

The Cure, a 1990s Goth band.
The Cure, a 1990s Goth band.
An ancient Gothic warrior.
An ancient Gothic warrior.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      This was very interesting


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