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-mouthed
He 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

Examples of gape in a Sentence

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
In particular, an explosion collapsed part of an apartment building, leaving a gaping hole in its structure. Constant Méheut, New York Times, 12 May 2024 Wall Street is generally convinced the economic health of the U.S. consumer is remarkably better than expected after COVID, but one analyst has pointed out there’s a gaping hole in the picture. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 8 May 2024 What’s more, there’s no gaping quarry, pit tunnels, diggers, noise, dust, or choking diesel emissions. TIME, 14 May 2024 Today’s top stories (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times) California Exodus California exodus left a gaping population hole that will take years to reverse. Ryan Fonseca, Los Angeles Times, 14 May 2024 And when mental health clinics are shuttered, that creates a lot of frustration that leaves a gaping hole, right? Jake Sheridan, Chicago Tribune, 12 May 2024 Videos and photos captured by passengers on the flight revealed a gaping hole in the side of the plane that was once the door plug. Natalia Senanayake, Peoplemag, 17 Apr. 2024 O’Connor’s Patrick is all empty swagger, a smirking husk of a man with a gaping, ugly maw of want at his center. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 12 Apr. 2024 The only visible indicators are gaping holes in several brown, straw-like lounge chairs. David J. Neal, Miami Herald, 10 Apr. 2024
Noun
The question seemed to vex the many passers-by who stopped to gape. Priya Krishna, New York Times, 25 Mar. 2024 Black rat snakes, on the other hand, could only expand their gape by about 19 percent. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Sep. 2023 And deep in the North Atlantic Ocean, an anglerfish gapes into the gloom. Natasha Frost, New York Times, 10 Dec. 2023 But her greatest nonmusical achievement is the innocuous art she’s made of the gape. Wesley Morris, New York Times, 13 Oct. 2023 Jayne says in the statement that the Gans’ egg-eaters’ larger gape may serve an important evolutionary purpose. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Sep. 2023 There is a moment when Ray refuses to accompany Ken to the roof of a bell tower and gape at the skyline together. Hazlitt, 17 May 2023 Which of us, after seeing Little Miss Sunshine, doesn't often think of Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) performing her pageant routine with confidence, completely disregarding the collective open-mouthed gape of the adults in the room? Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, 12 Oct. 2021 Zoo-goers gape. James V. Grimaldi, WSJ, 11 Aug. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gape.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 27 May. 2024.

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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