\ ˈgəlf \

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

The killing suggested that, despite moves toward liberalizing Saudi society, a deep gulf in values remains between the kingdom and the West. WSJ, "Year of Living Dangerously With Friends and Foes," 17 Dec. 2018 With hurricanes bearing down on the east coast and gulf states, and tornadoes and floods pummeling the south and midwest, people have power outages on their minds. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "Home Generator 101: How to Power on When the Power Goes Out," 10 Sep. 2018 Especially when the gulf between the two classes grows all the time. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Soccer’s Super League Threat Isn’t Going Away," 12 Nov. 2018 The model ends its reproduction of the river’s basin around Baton Rouge, 150 miles north of where the river meets the gulf. Nate Berg, Curbed, "Can engineering save Louisiana’s coastline?," 7 Nov. 2018 Meghan Markle's estranged half-sister, Samantha Markle, took the occasion as a chance to dig in and make the gulf between Meghan and her dad's side of the family a little wider. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle's Estranged Sister Posted a Savage Birthday Message to Prince Harry," 16 Sep. 2018 The strings are almost troublingly raw, perched on the edge of hysteria, over a yawning gulf to the deep base of the orchestra. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Review: A Conductor Sets Munich’s Ashen ‘Parsifal’ Aflame," 1 July 2018 And this remoteness creates a gulf between those caught in the crossfire — the people represented by Kromplyas’s bullet-ridden silhouettes — and those living in the peaceful rest of the country. David L. Stern, Washington Post, "War in eastern Ukraine now seems a distant storm to Kiev," 26 June 2018 The Leonard situation will be an ongoing saga, and there still appears to be quite a gulf to bridge in order to keep him in the fold. Steve Warns, San Antonio Express-News, "Writers’ roundtable: Who won the NBA Draft, what’s next with Kawhi Leonard," 23 June 2018

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

14 Jan 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 \

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).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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