When you sit with your mouth open staring at a spectacle and looking silly, this is an example of a time when you gawk at the spectacle.
Origin of gawk
- Perhaps alteration (influenced by gawk awkward person) of obsolete gaw to gape from Middle English gawen from Old Norse gā to heed N., probably from English dialectal gawk left (as in gawk hand left hand)
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- A Middle-Appalachian Americanism, since late 1800s, possibly misconstruing French "gauche," and leading to use of adj gawky for a person or process that is uncoordinated or awkward.
- Perhaps from Old Norse gá (“to heed”).