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

Definition of gape

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : 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.


plural gapes

Definition of gape (Entry 2 of 2)

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 gape— Jill 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
2a : 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
3a : 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

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Other Words from gape


gapingly \ ˈgā-​piŋ-​lē How to pronounce gape (audio) , ˈga-​piŋ-​ \ adverb

Synonyms for gape

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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 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,, 23 Dec. 2020 His tough, often mean-spirited, sexist speech created a spectacle that Americans couldn’t help but gape at. Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, 7 Nov. 2020 When a young food runner fumbled over the ingredients in pastry chef Anne Blanchard’s refreshing dessert (crisp pink grapefruit sorbet, buttery strawberry sablé, lime cream), the senior server standing behind him didn’t swoop in or gape in horror. Adam Erace, Fortune, 8 Mar. 2020 The Grand Canyon this is not — but the cracks were sizable enough to make visitors gape. Giulia Mcdonnell Nieto Del Rio,, 9 July 2019 And as women with full chests know, finding a button-down that doesn't gape at the buttons is nearly impossible, so Chan added hidden buttons to make sure the shirt doesn't pull open at the bust. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 Sep. 2019 Most revelers stay up all night or rise early enough to gape from balconies or barricades as hundreds of runners dressed in the traditional white outfit with a red sash make their mad dash. Fox News, 14 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But that vision belongs in the realm of rapturous poetry, not for us film lovers to gape in awestruck amazement at the foolishness. Los Angeles Times, 24 Sep. 2021 Her mouth gape measures 6.56 centimeters, or about two and a half inches. Rachel Trent, CNN, 31 July 2021 The 31-year-old Connecticut woman, whose massive mouth brought her viral fame, was recently confirmed by Guinness World Records to have the world's largest mouth gape (female), measuring a whopping 6.52 centimeters. Rachel Desantis,, 3 Aug. 2021 Samantha Ramsdell broke the record for having the largest mouth gape of a female after going viral on TikTok, Guinness reported. Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY, 2 Aug. 2021 Guinness World Records confirmed that Samantha Ramsdell, from Connecticut, is the record holder for the world's largest mouth gape for a female. Rachel Trent, CNN, 31 July 2021 According to the Guinness Book of World Records, no one on the planet has a wider mouth gape. Neal Justin, Star Tribune, 8 July 2021 One particularly important bird trait is mouth size—also known as gape width—which constrains the size of seeds a bird may consume and disperse. Samuel B. Case, Scientific American, 12 June 2021 Picturesque anytime of year, that route is especially gape-worthy in fall, when the trees flaunt their brilliant golds and reds. Jeanine Barone, WSJ, 10 June 2021

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.

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First Known Use of gape


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


1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gape


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


derivative of gape entry 1

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Time Traveler for gape

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

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Last Updated

4 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gape.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for gape



English Language Learners Definition of gape

: to open widely
: to look at someone or something with your mouth open in surprise or wonder


\ ˈgāp How to pronounce gape (audio) \
gaped; gaping

Kids Definition of gape

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to stare with the mouth open in surprise or wonder … he stood and gaped at her in astonishment …— Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking
2 : to open or part widely a gaping wound



Kids Definition of gape (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or instance of opening or staring with the mouth open He ignored everyone's stunned gapes.

More from Merriam-Webster on gape

Nglish: Translation of gape for Spanish Speakers


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