The derivation of the word is uncertain. It may come from the Latin gula, gluttony. It may also originate from a mythical "Bishop Golias," a medieval Latin form of the name Goliath, the giant who fought King David in the Bible—thus suggestive of the monstrous nature of the goliard. Another source may be gailliard, a "gay fellow."
Many scholars believe the term goliard is derived from a letter between St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Pope Innocent II, in which Bernard referred to Pierre Abélard as Goliath, thus creating a connection between Goliath and the student adherents of Abélard. By the 14th century, the word goliard became synonymous with minstrel, and no longer referred to a particular group of clergy.