Definition of gape in English:



[no object]
  • 1Be or become wide open.

    with complement ‘a large duffel bag gaped open by her feet’
    • ‘A huge hole gaped in the roof, and a conservatory was shattered.’
    • ‘As in life, the gap between aspiration and achievement gapes wide.’
    • ‘The large ships absorbed the damage even as gaping holes were ripped into their hides.’
    • ‘What are gaping emotional wounds if not fodder for tragic and pretty folk songs?’
    • ‘They made their way into the now gaping hole in the wall and looked around.’
    • ‘Like too many of this government's initiatives, as soon as you start to examine the details gaping holes emerge.’
    • ‘In spite of widespread statutory reform, legal loopholes gaped wide open at midcentury.’
    • ‘If you're really lucky a Central Line train will already be standing there waiting with its doors gaping open.’
    • ‘Holes gaped in the floor where floorboards had been prised.’
    • ‘Several of the boards were loose and toward the north end a hole gaped where a dozen or more had been pulled up.’
    • ‘Cracks gaped in building walls, and chunks of plaster fell from ceilings, Italian news reports said.’
    • ‘The press just gaped with their jaws open and tongue hanging out in utter incredulity.’
    • ‘Gaping wounds are a result of being stabbed across lines perpendicular to the fibers.’
    open wide, open up, yawn
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    1. 1.1 Stare with one's mouth open wide in amazement or wonder.
      ‘he gaped at Sharp in silence’
      • ‘I gaped at her, stuck between being infuriated and revolted.’
      • ‘Ada gaped at blaze in front of her, already struggling for air in the room that was thick with smoke.’
      • ‘I rubbed my eyes a few times before I gaped at the scene before me.’
      • ‘I gaped at them all, staring in stunned disbelief from one face to the next.’
      • ‘We all gasped putting our hands over our mouths as we gaped at the scene in front of us.’
      • ‘Vicki opened the door excitedly and gaped at everything.’
      • ‘They all gaped at us and Matt paused, staring at Samuel incredulously.’
      • ‘Connor nodded his agreement, and I gaped at the pair of them.’
      • ‘He gaped at the person next to him as though he'd never seen him before.’
      • ‘He enjoyed a few minutes of weightless flight and gaped at the gorgeous view.’
      • ‘We missed the hammerheads, but enormous moray eels gaped at us from their rocky lairs.’
      • ‘Her bluish eyes were wide with shock as her mouth gaped at the sight of me.’
      • ‘Kirsten gaped at her younger sister, then turned, enraged, to stalk off.’
      • ‘The other gaped at them dumbfounded, a cigarette falling from his open mouth.’
      • ‘We gaped at each other for a moment and then she snapped her phone shut.’
      • ‘She placed a hand on my shoulder, and when I gaped at her in surprise, she was looking over her right shoulder.’
      • ‘They gaped at him, their mouths slightly open, then simultaneously bolted for the basement door to the outside.’
      • ‘Emily gaped at her friend and covered her mouth with her hand so she wouldn't hurt her friend more by arguing with her.’
      • ‘I gaped at him for a moment then snapped my mouth close and looked out the window.’
      • ‘He gaped at her for several moments, confused by the sudden change in conversation and by her last comment.’
      stare, stare open-mouthed, stare in wonder, gawk, goggle, gaze, ogle, look fixedly, look vacantly
      View synonyms


  • 1A wide opening.

    ‘a gape of the jaws’
    • ‘But through a wide gape in-between the drapes, the Tokyo moon shone in, its light washing over the whole apartment and bathing it in an ivory glow.’
    • ‘A wind blew in from the open gape that was my window and I shivered.’
    • ‘The anterior, probably downwards-orientated, part of shell has a gape from which the foot could probably emerged.’
    1. 1.1 An open-mouthed stare.
      ‘she climbed into her sports car to the gapes of passers-by’
      • ‘My mouth dropped in a gape, as I fought to find the right words to say to her.’
      • ‘The perch has the large eye and wide gape of an active hunter.’
      • ‘Devon pulled me down the stairs, getting us a few stares and gapes as ‘the’ Devon was making his entrance without a shirt on.’
      • ‘Daniel's mouth fell open in a gape of astonishment.’
      • ‘For those few seconds, my mouth was dropped in a gape and I stayed calm except for my heavy nervous breathing.’
      • ‘She turned around briskly, to face the gapes and open mouths of many of the new recruits to the Armed Guards, the females of whom were gripping their pictures of them.’
      • ‘She was holding a champagne glass, the liquid half gone, and was grasping the doorframe, her mouth in a permanent gape.’
      • ‘His face relaxes, his eyes squint, his jaw drops, and he suddenly becomes the everyman, a guy with an open-mouthed gape trying to figure out the world.’
    2. 1.2 A widely open mouth or beak.
      ‘juvenile birds with yellow gapes’
      • ‘In large carnivores with very long canines, such as the gorgonopsians and some therocephalians, a wide gape was necessary, and so a secure attachment of the lower jaw is required.’
      • ‘Furthermore, the gape of the animal would need to accommodate the 8 cm span of the radius and ulna and would surely cause damage to the ulna shaft that is not observed on the specimen.’
      • ‘Tadpoles that live this way have a broad tail, a wide, rounded body, and a peculiar mouth totally unlike the familiar smiling gape of a frog.’
      • ‘The large gape looks ideal for hawking insects in mid-air, but paradoxically, the birds take most of their prey from the ground or from a branch.’
      • ‘The moveable front part of the cranium provides a larger gape when the mouth is opened, and this may be advantageous in feeding.’
      • ‘It also has a tiny beak with a large gape, surrounded by stiff feathers called rictal bristles, which help the bird catch its aerial prey.’
      • ‘The gape coincides with the base of the first frustum, the top of the last frustum is situated well behind the bulging oesophagus.’
      • ‘Swifts feed on the wing, and their large gape enables them to catch insects while in flight.’
      • ‘In breeding plumage, yellow gape and chestnut face and neck.’
      • ‘Nestlings give typical begging calls when parents visit their nest, while also raising their heads and widely opening their yellow to deep-orange gapes.’
      • ‘As the kinematic trace shows, peak opercular abduction closely follows peak mouth gape and is delayed by merely 12 msec.’
      • ‘After film processing, pictures of gapes were transferred onto an electronic support, and gape coloration was measured using the AdobePhotoshop 5.0 package.’
      • ‘The birds' large gape and manoeuvrable flight help them to catch their prey.’
      • ‘When the team injected barn swallow chicks with foreign antigens, the color of the chicks' gapes dulled as their bodies drew upon all available carotenoids to mount an immune defense.’
      • ‘All locations, irrespective of the degree of wave exposure, may be subject to numerous small, strong, precise bites by fishes with small gapes.’
      • ‘The Frogmouths derive the name due to the extraordinarily large gape and the small grey flap on the tongue.’
      • ‘They have a large head, a wide, flat, hooked bill, large eyes and a large gape.’
      • ‘Zander mouths have a smaller gape than pike, so although large fish are almost exclusively piscivorous, they take much smaller prey than a pike of similar size.’
      • ‘They have a large gape which allows them to feed on very large fish by chopping them in half.’
      • ‘This gave the placoderms a distinctively narrow gape.’
    3. 1.3the gapes A disease of birds with gaping of the mouth as a symptom, caused by infestation with gapeworm.
      • ‘One brood was cooped out of doors on the ground and every chick died of the gapes in less than a month.’


Middle English: from Old Norse gapa; related to gap.