\ 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
3 : whirlpool
4 : a wide gap the gulf between generations


gulfed; gulfing; gulfs

Definition of gulf (Entry 2 of 2)

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Synonyms & Antonyms for gulf

Synonyms: Noun

arm, bay, bight, cove, creek [chiefly British], embayment, estuary, firth, fjord (also fiord), inlet, loch [Scottish]

Synonyms: Verb

deluge, drown, engulf, flood, inundate, overflow, overwhelm, submerge, submerse, swamp

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of gulf in a Sentence


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


with the administration gulfed by so many real problems, it's absurd for the president to concern himself with this nonissue
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Nine months is a long gulf between launches for a company that ultimately aspires to send rockets into space on a weekly basis. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Lab reveals new factory and launch site, aims for 16 flights next year," 17 Oct. 2018 But there is an enormous gulf between the appealing idea of Medicare for All and the incredibly expensive reality. Charles Blahous, WSJ, "Even Doubling Taxes Wouldn’t Pay for ‘Medicare for All’," 1 Aug. 2018 There's a gulf between the tinny, crappy sound out of the TV and auditory revelation of a fully realized (but expensive and complicated) sound system. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "Roku Made Wireless TV Speakers And They're Actually Kind of Great," 16 July 2018 There is a gulf of difference between the salesman’s ability to schmooze and charm and the trader’s ability to synthesize information about markets and make bets worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "A Sidelined Wall Street Legend Bets on Bitcoin," 10 Apr. 2018 American Greg LeMond was the other contemporaneous English-speaking rider to bridge the massive cultural gulf to win the Tour de France (three times) and the World Championship (twice). Lennard Zinn, WSJ, "Summer Books: Cycling," 23 May 2018 As the legislature powered past the Tuesday crossover point, when each chamber wraps up its work and sends it to the other, the air was thick with a sense that Virginia may actually find ways to bridge the partisan gulf and get things done. Washington Post, "Cupid must be in Richmond as lawmakers claim bipartisan goodwill," 14 Feb. 2018 There’s a huge gulf in his approval ratings between Democrats and Republicans: Some 84 percent of Republicans approve of him compared to just 7 percent of Democrats, for a gap of 77 percentage points — more so than any other recent U.S. president. Rani Molla, Recode, "10 charts that sum up 2018 (so far)," 13 Aug. 2018 The gulf between the two programs was evident once the early adrenaline wore off and Williamson went to work. Will Graves, The Seattle Times, "Williamson scores 25, No. 2 Duke shuts down Pitt 79-64," 22 Jan. 2019

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.

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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

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Statistics for gulf

Last Updated

6 May 2019

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Time Traveler for gulf

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

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More Definitions for gulf



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on gulf

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gulf

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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