\ ˈgəlf How to pronounce gulf (audio) \

Definition of gulf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a part of an ocean or sea extending into the land
2 : a deep chasm : abyss
4 : a wide gap the gulf between generations


gulfed; gulfing; gulfs

Definition of gulf (Entry 2 of 2)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for gulf

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of gulf in a Sentence

Noun we dipped our feet in the warm waters of the gulf the great gulf of time and space that separates us from the first inhabitants of North America Verb with the administration gulfed by so many real problems, it's absurd for the president to concern himself with this nonissue
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There's a big gulf on COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as well with Democrats proposing $75 billion and Republicans $16 billion. USA Today, "$1,200 checks? Money for schools? Breaking down what Republicans and Democrats want in the coronavirus stimulus plan," 31 July 2020 The gulf between their ultimate goals forms the film’s final conflict. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "Palm Springs Is a Timely Comedy About Being Stuck in the Now," 9 July 2020 But while his company’s value has soared, there remains a gulf in the scale of his company and the world’s biggest car manufacturers. Reed Stevenson, Fortune, "Tesla just dethroned Toyota as the world’s most valuable automaker," 1 July 2020 But while his company’s value has soared, there remains a gulf in the scale of his company and the world’s biggest car manufacturers. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "Tesla surpasses Toyota as the planet’s most valuable automaker," 1 July 2020 The gulf between rich and poor here existed long before coronavirus showed up. Elias Williams, National Geographic, "New York’s arts scene remains shut down indefinitely—can it evolve and survive?," 15 June 2020 Using boats, the international team of researchers conducted surveys in the western gulf of Shark Bay, Australia, between 2007 and 2018 to evaluate how shelling behavior spread across the population. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Dolphins are learning smart fish-catching trick from peers, not mothers," 25 June 2020 The late Maya Angelou recognized this gulf between what her own relationship to France was compared to France’s relationship to others who looked like her. Gary Younge, The New York Review of Books, "What Black America Means to Europe," 6 June 2020 At the same time as all of this was happening, another scandal emerged to illuminate the widening gulf between ordinary Americans and the elites. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "The Stock Market Is an Engine of Civic Destruction," 4 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb So many gulfs separate us now: geographical, anatomical, psychological. Ferris Jabr, Smithsonian, "It’s Official: Fish Feel Pain," 8 Jan. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of gulf


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1807, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gulf


Middle English goulf, from Middle French golfe, from Italian golfo, from Late Latin colpus, from Greek kolpos bosom, gulf; akin to Old English hwealf vault, Old High German walbo

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gulf

Time Traveler for gulf

Time Traveler

The first known use of gulf was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for gulf

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gulf.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gulf


How to pronounce gulf (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gulf

: a large area of ocean that is partly surrounded by land
: a difference between two people, groups, or things


\ ˈgəlf How to pronounce gulf (audio) \

Kids Definition of gulf

1 : a part of an ocean or sea that extends into the land the Gulf of Mexico
2 : a deep split or gap in the earth
3 : a wide separation … so wide sometimes is the gulf between theory and practice.— Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on gulf

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gulf

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gulf

Spanish Central: Translation of gulf

Nglish: Translation of gulf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gulf for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about gulf

Comments on gulf

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!