\ˈgāp, sometimes ˈgap \
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 openmouthed surprise or wonder gaped at the squabbling monkeys

3 : yawn The dull lecture made the students gape.



Definition of gape (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of opening the mouth wide:

a : yawn

b : an openmouthed stare

2 : an unfilled space or extent

3a : the median margin-to-margin length of the open mouth

b : the line along which the mandibles (see mandible sense 1c) of a bird close

c : the width of an opening

4 gapes plural in form but singular in construction

a : a disease of birds and especially young birds in which gapeworms invade and irritate the trachea (see trachea sense 1)

b : a fit of yawning

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Other Words from gape


gapingly \ˈgā-piŋ-lē, ˈga-piŋ- \ adverb

Synonyms for gape

Synonyms: Verb

blink, gawk, gaze, goggle, peer, rubberneck, stare

Synonyms: Noun

eye, gaze, regard, scrutiny, stare

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Examples of gape in a Sentence


she suddenly realized she had been gaping at the good-looking waiter instead of giving him her order


I told him to stop staring, that his rather stupid gape was annoying.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But even 21st century sophisticates will gape at Houdini’s escapes, some of which were extraordinarily dangerous. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "Behind the magic of Harry Houdini at the Jewish Museum of Maryland," 29 June 2018 Which is why any trip to Iceland should include a stop here, to gape at the bobbing icebergs floating in the water. Susan Glaser,, "Iceland Travel Blog: Bobbing among icebergs on Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon (photos, video)," 11 May 2018 People walked out but no one noticed because so many more people wanted to gape at the big Cheeto man forming words. Anne Branigin, The Root, "What You Need to Know About Trump’s Speech to the World’s Richest White Men," 26 Jan. 2018 Visitors from China, France and Appleton, Wisconsin, continued to gape at the Bellagio’s water show. James Rainey, NBC News, "Las Vegas Tourists Undaunted After Concert Shooting," 5 Oct. 2017 Imago Fulvio also has a key to the side door, so guides can bring groups in to gape at the Renaissance frescoes. Andrea Bartz, Vogue, "Exactly How to Get Into Rome’s Most Beautiful Off-Limits Attractions," 17 Aug. 2017 At one point the model and cookbook author leaned over her husband, causing her flowing, loose-fitting black jumpsuit to gape in the front, giving the audience a little bit of a peep show. Andrea Park, Glamour, "In Which Chrissy Teigen Grinds on John Legend During His New York Concert," 28 June 2017 The rule: Blazers will gape open awkwardly in the front or lie awkwardly against your body. Charles Manning, Cosmopolitan, "8 Rules For Dressing a Large Bust You Should Seriously Never Follow," 26 Apr. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Imagine one with a tie that wraps around your waist so smoothly the tiny hole the belt snakes through never gapes. Elizabeth Wellington,, "Watch out DVF, Truth BE Worn is coming for your wrap dress cred | Elizabeth Wellington," 7 June 2018 Like modern birds, Ichthyornis’s upper jaw was made of several bones and was somewhat bendable, allowing the tip of the snout to flex upward and broaden the bird’s gape when grabbing prey. Sid Perkins, Scientific American, "New Fossils Offer Clues about a Primordial Bird Beak," 2 May 2018 As the happy, purposeful crowd pushes into school, the bully is left to gape and blush, alone and ostracized. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Safety and Comfort in Numbers," 27 Apr. 2018 The Mom star recently sat down as a guest on Dax Shepard's new Armchair Expert podcast and had a candid chat about her feelings on shopping malls, parenting, and the gender wage gape. Jackie Frere, Redbook, "Anna Faris Doesn’t Know If She Believes in Marriage After Her Divorce from Chris Pratt," 27 Mar. 2018 To deepen the illusion that life is just one big fashion spread, we've been trained to 1) smize, 2) duck face, 3) squinch, and now, 4) fish gape. Chelsea Peng, Marie Claire, "News Flash: The Duck Face Has Been Replaced by the Fish Gape," 1 Oct. 2015 Anglerfish, with their menacing gape and dangling lure, are among the most curious inhabitants of the deep ocean. Katie Langin, Science | AAAS, "Exclusive: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it’. Video of mating deep-sea anglerfish stuns biologists," 22 Mar. 2018 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?, "17 Movies Every Woman Should See At Least Once," 8 Mar. 2018 The duck face, the fish gape, the vague arm raise – getting a likeable Inta involves a lot of really random trends. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Fashion Bloggers Are Obsessed With This Super Weird Instagram Trend," 24 Jan. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near gape

Gao Xingjian







Statistics for gape

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Time Traveler for gape

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

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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 \
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.

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Comments on gape

What made you want to look up gape? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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