\ ˈgāp, 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 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 How to pronounce gapingly (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 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, "This New Brand Is One of Fashion Week’s Most Important Launches," 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, "Running of the bulls ends in Spain with 3 men gored in final run," 14 July 2019 Dry river mouths gape among dunes the height of cathedrals. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 2018 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There is a repertoire of techniques and technologies designed by Henson and his collaborators, a choreographic style as recognizable as Martha Graham's or Twyla Tharp's, a physical vocabulary of head shakes, mouth gapes, hand flops, bouncy walks. Robert Lloyd,, "The sinister appeal of ‘The Dark Crystal’s’ bad Muppets," 3 Sep. 2019 There is a repertoire of techniques and technologies designed by Henson and his collaborators, a choreographic style as recognizable as Martha Graham’s or Twyla Tharp’s, a physical vocabulary of head shakes, mouth gapes, hand flops, bouncy walks. Los Angeles Times, "The sinister appeal of ‘The Dark Crystal’s’ bad muppets," 3 Sep. 2019 At Lake Myvatn, where tourists soak in natural hot springs and gape at pits of boiling mud, demand for local accommodation has plunged. New York Times, "Iceland’s Purple Planes Are Grounded, and With Them, Its Economy," 25 Aug. 2019 An enormous cast of the sharp-toothed jaw of a megalodon gapes open, wide and high enough to gobble a grown man. Susan Dunne,, "Sharks! on exhibit through summer at the Bruce," 3 July 2019 Just ask Kylie Jenner, who loves oil pulling (swashing around the natural extract in your mouth for several minutes) to achieve pure-white flash of teeth behind her fish gape. Lauren Valenti, Marie Claire, "Rubbing These Two Things on Your Teeth Will Make Them Whiter in Minutes," 19 Apr. 2016 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

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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Statistics for gape

Last Updated

28 Sep 2019

Time Traveler for gape

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

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More Definitions for gape


How to pronounce gape (audio)

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on gape

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gape

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gape

Spanish Central: Translation of gape

Nglish: Translation of gape for Spanish Speakers

Comments on gape

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something of little or no value

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