As a general term of contempt or abuse: a worthless person; a rogue. In early use also: †a person of low birth or status (obsolete).
Old English (in an earlier sense). Cognate with Middle Dutch gadelinc, gedelinc, of uncertain sense, perhaps ‘partner, associate’, Old Saxon gaduling relative, fellow countryman (Middle Low German gēdelinc, gādelinc), Old High German gataling, gateling relative, fellow countryman (Middle High German getelinc, getlinc, German regional (Bavarian) Gättling, Gettling), and (with different medial vowel) Gothic gadiliggs cousin from the same Germanic base seen in Old English gaed fellowship, society, (with prefixation) gegada companion, associate, and (with suffixation) geador together + the Germanic base of -ling.
Each of a number of small metal spikes or knobs fitted to the knuckles of a gauntlet. Usually in plural.
Late Middle English. From gad + -ling.