Right now, a gargoyle refers to an entire stone statue, usually of a grotesque, mythical style. In earlier times, however, the word solely meant the mouth of the "gargoyle" we know today; specifically the spout where water would often come out of. This comes from the Old French word gargouille (sounds like a tasty soup in my opinion), from the older Old French word gargoule. This meant "throat", which is not much of a stretch from "gargoyle mouth" but is still pretty crazy if you step back and look at the whole picture. Additionally, gargoule gave us our verb gargle, so that's fascinating by itself. This comes from the Latin word gargola, with the same meaning. The first part of this, gar, is onomoatopoeic of actual gulping sounds, and the second part, gula, still meant "throat" in Latin (also the source of gullet, through French golet). Overall, these words most likely come from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction gwele, which meant "to swallow" or something similar. That too is possibly imitative in origin.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd