gape

1 of 2

verb

ˈgāp How to pronounce gape (audio)
sometimes
ˈgap How to pronounce gape (audio)
gaped; gaping

intransitive verb

1
a
: to open the mouth wide
b
: to open or part widely
holes gaped in the pavement
2
: to gaze stupidly or in open-mouthed surprise or wonder
gaped at the squabbling monkeys
3
: yawn
The dull lecture made the students gape.
gapingly
ˈgā-piŋ-lē How to pronounce gape (audio)
ˈga-piŋ-
adverb

gape

2 of 2

noun

plural gapes
1
: an act or instance of opening the mouth wide or of keeping the mouth open wide
One piranha, she discovered, went from wide-open gape to shut jaws in less than five milliseconds, far faster than the wink of an eye.Per Ola d'Aulaire and Emily d'Aulaire
It seemed his mouth was always sort of hanging open in a stupid gapeJill McCorkle
At first glance, the case seemed routine, and the suspects elicited no gapes [=open-mouthed looks] of surprise …Michael Powell and Nicholas Confessore
She was pushing an unwieldy shopping cart in the street, trying to keep out of the way of oncoming cars, ignoring the gapes of passersby.Joan Levine
often used in combination
gape-mouthedHe looked at his men, all of them staring gape-jawed at him …David Abrams
sometimes, specifically : yawn entry 2 sense 2
… another hour of pleasure or of penance was to be sat out, another hour of music was to give delight or the gapes [=a fit of yawning]Jane Austen
2
a
: the expanse of an open mouth : the opening formed by the open mouth of an animal (such as a bird, fish, or snake)
An eel, like most fishes, amphibians, and reptiles, is gape limited, meaning it can eat only what it can swallow …Gene S. Helfman
b
: the line along which the mandibles (see mandible sense 1c) of a bird close
3
a
: something resembling an open mouth (such as an unfilled space or extent)
A hole, in whitewater parlance, is a recirculating maw of foam. … Its gape shows like a frothy smirk or, depending on viewpoint, a frown.David Quammen
b
: the width of an opening
… gyratory crushers having a gape suitable for the coarsest crushing …A. M. Gaudin
4
gapes plural in form but singular in construction
: a disease of birds and especially young birds in which gapeworms invade and irritate the trachea (see trachea sense 1)
a case of gapes
often used with the
… an outbreak of the gapes, a disease of fowls caused by worms in the windpipe.John Cheever

Example Sentences

Verb she suddenly realized she had been gaping at the good-looking waiter instead of giving him her order Noun I told him to stop staring, that his rather stupid gape was annoying.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
And should viewers who gape and gawk at Paul T. Goldman and Goldman himself come away with a general sense of complicity in a fundamentally voyeuristic endeavor? Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Dec. 2022 Commune with bizarre life-forms deep below your feet, or simply gape in morbid fascination at the fecal microbes that are currently having a party on your pillow and TV screen? Corey S Powell, Discover Magazine, 6 July 2012 Yet the account is a rubbernecker’s anthology, a monument to those who stop and gape, with camera apps open, turning every guy shaving his chest on a rooftop into viral evidence that New York is crazy, man. Jody Rosen, New York Times, 5 Oct. 2022 The sheer neck-craning nature of the blast, leaving fans and players alike to stare up and gape as the ball hurtled a fraction right of the foul pole, was something to marvel at. Andy Kostka, Baltimore Sun, 3 Sep. 2022 Perhaps the most popular way to explore the canyon is via a boat tour that meanders down the river, allowing visitors to gape up at the imposing rock walls. Meagan Drillinger, Travel + Leisure, 21 Feb. 2022 From many places along Interstate 5, where travelers can’t help but gape at the towering volcano, snow has been hard to see for weeks. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Aug. 2021 But, in the meantime, Metsavainio’s 100,000-pixel-wide epic still offers plenty to gape at. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Mar. 2021 Summoning their inner thespians, possums keel over when cornered, allowing their mouths to gape open in apparent death. Doug Maccash | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, 23 Dec. 2020
Noun
That much is clear from the ruins of Boston, where craters from bygone missiles gape beneath tilting highrises wrapped in plate-like Polypores. Randall Colburn, EW.com, 23 Jan. 2023 Dolphin S brings out the fish with lips flaring in the posterior half of the gape area to show the upper tooth row and gular area expanding. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 1 Jan. 2023 The researchers questioned whether there is even an upper limit to the gape of some of the very biggest pythons. Christian Edwards, CNN, 7 Oct. 2022 The gape-mouthed expression of these primates has long been considered an act of yawning or stretching. Josie Garthwaite, Discover Magazine, 28 Oct. 2012 The boat’s net courses through the water like a gape-mouthed whale shark. Craig Welch, National Geographic, 13 Jan. 2023 In Vansittart Bay, gape at 40,000-year-old images in an outdoor aboriginal art gallery. Janice Wald Henderson, Condé Nast Traveler, 13 Oct. 2022 Caves a thousand miles apart show the same gape-mouthed, extra-manly drawings. Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 29 Feb. 2012 Without a powerful performance at its center — both Lawther and Wright are awkward and recessive — the cracks in Icke’s conception and craft gape wide. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 30 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gape.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English gapen, borrowed from Old Norse gapa, going back to Germanic *gapōn- (whence Middle Dutch gapen "to gaze stupidly," Middle High German gaffen), perhaps of phonesthemic origin

Noun

derivative of gape entry 1

First Known Use

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of gape was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near gape

Cite this Entry

“Gape.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gape. Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

gape

1 of 2 verb
gaped; gaping
1
a
: to open the mouth wide
b
: to open or part widely
2
: to stare with mouth open in surprise or wonder
3
gaper noun
gapingly adverb

gape

2 of 2 noun
1
: an act or instance of gaping
2
: an unfilled space

More from Merriam-Webster on gape

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