Definition of gutter in English:



  • 1A shallow trough fixed beneath the edge of a roof for carrying off rainwater.

    • ‘There was a broken gutter on the roof which was pouring down a waterfall.’
    • ‘The gutters round the roofs of the wings were constructed in a manner which is now, as I understand it, obsolete.’
    • ‘Water from this melting is trapped and creates an ice dam on the roof, gutters and downspouts.’
    • ‘They get their water from a big trough replenished by rainwater from the roof gutter on the barn.’
    • ‘The work started with repairs to the roof, gutters and windows and the job is expected to last eight months.’
    • ‘You can get a £30 discount from your water bill if you can show that none of the water from your roof gutters or garden runs into a sewer.’
    • ‘But the outer top edge of the gutter ideally should line up with the roof plane and, therefore, be level.’
    • ‘In April 1996, a crew of outside contract workers was sent up onto the roof to clean gutters.’
    • ‘For watering our garden, we direct rainwater from our roof gutters.’
    • ‘I recall considering grabbing the gutter on the roof edge as it rose past me, but doubted it would do much but slow me for an instant and pull me off balance.’
    • ‘In both projects, the rainwater falls from the roof without gutters, and open gravel trenches redirect the surface water.’
    • ‘I immediately went outside my home with a ladder and scooped up some of the fine silt that accumulates in my roof's rain gutters.’
    • ‘Slates had been falling from the roof and that recently builders had placed planking in the gutters at roof level to stop the slates falling to the ground below.’
    • ‘Downspouts from roof gutters should route water away from the building.’
    • ‘Mr Bowell revealed that the panels that shattered were on the old roof, above the gutter.’
    • ‘If ice forms at the roof edge or at the gutter, this shield can prevent seepage back into the framing.’
    • ‘A figure separated from shadows where it had stood watching the strange woman, eyes drawn towards the undersized building with gutters lining its roof.’
    • ‘Stagnant water can be prevented from developing by stopping water collecting in places such as gutters and flat roofs by removing debris such as leaves and twigs.’
    • ‘Users snap plastic clips to a roof gutter from a hand-held 9-foot telescoping pole.’
    • ‘A drip edge is simply a piece of metal mounted on the edge of the roof to prevent water from curling underneath the edge of the roof and bypassing the gutters.’
    1. 1.1 A channel at the side of a street for carrying off rainwater.
      • ‘He was lying in the gutter at the side of a small road.’
      • ‘It was stuck between two narrow residential streets and rode uncomfortably up to the gutters on each side, so that there was no sidewalk adjacent to the lot.’
      • ‘Her eye was caught by a gutter on the opposite side of the street.’
      • ‘There was a girl out walking, staying in the gutters and in the street lights.’
      • ‘These cities may also demand the finishing of streets, gutters and sidewalks in exchange for permit approval.’
      • ‘While her parents shopped, Kate can remember sitting outside with Johnny and Alice, their feet in the gutter of the unpaved street.’
      • ‘All you can hope is that they might stumble too close to the edge of a rain-soaked gutter and be completely drenched by a passing car.’
      • ‘The beginning involves a slick, wet cobblestone street and gutters flooded with England's notorious rainwater.’
      • ‘He could see, even through his fogged windows, that the gutters of the streets below were flooded.’
      • ‘They were everywhere, streets, gutters, pavements, air.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, the rain water picks up every kind of garbage on the streets and gutters, and washes it into the lake.’
      • ‘Dogs are present throughout the street series, roaming the streets and sniffing the gutters.’
      • ‘When morning comes and the street sweepers clean the gutters, they are sometimes followed by vacuum trucks, lest the runoff contaminate the storm drains.’
      • ‘It clogs up gutters and floods streets and spreads mud everywhere.’
      • ‘The streets' surfaces were curved slightly, so that the middle was domed up above the rest and there were cluttered gutters along the edges.’
      • ‘Once the preserve of kids jumping gutters in suburban streets, bicycles are increasingly a viable alternative to cars.’
      • ‘Owen stepped over the street gutter to reach the front door.’
      • ‘I sit here, my whole body aching and groaning, as if I've been bashed and left in a gutter by the side of the road.’
      • ‘The sun shone brightly and the gutters on the side of the street shone and sparkled with the run-off from the melting snow.’
      • ‘Most of these flow from the streets and gutters, where they have been inappropriately disposed of, and into our waterways.’
      drain, sluice, sluiceway, culvert, spillway, flume, sewer
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    2. 1.2the gutter Used to refer to a poor or squalid existence or environment.
      ‘men who had fought their way out of the gutter’
      • ‘The political party's descent into the gutter continues apace, with plans to further tighten already draconian anti asylum seeker legislation.’
      • ‘Why am I independent and able to give my daughter a first-rate education, when other women that had just as good opportunities are in the gutter?’
      • ‘But he managed to work his way out of the gutter, emerging as a celebrated artist with a steely determination to succeed.’
      • ‘Now look where rationalism in the context of liberal humanism has taken us - into the gutter of situation ethics.’
      • ‘Now that our minds were out of the gutter we continued.’
    3. 1.3technical A groove or channel for flowing liquid.
      • ‘Each gutter had become a flowing stream, and each dip in the road had become a ford to traverse.’
      • ‘Domestic waste flowing through exposed, overflowing, fly-infested gutters are a sight as common as our coconut trees.’
      • ‘The channel was stuffy and hotter than the outside, with about an inch of water along the bottom flowing down from the gutters and following the slight slant of the tunnel.’
      • ‘The company allegedly dumps its waste into a gutter that flows into the river.’
      • ‘Make sure there are no cracks or open seams in your gutters or downspouts.’
    4. 1.4 A channel on either side of a lane in a bowling alley.
      • ‘I then do the same thing on the next frame but the ball falls into the gutter and I cover the full rack spare.’
      • ‘The balls roll down the gutter to the pin end of the lane for return to the bowler.’
  • 2The blank space between facing pages of a book or between adjacent columns of type or stamps in a sheet.

    • ‘As the book settles onto the right board, the left-hand pages are bent to a tight curve near the gutter.’
    • ‘Some are flush with the gutter or even leaping off the top of the page and as such are visually confusing.’
    • ‘On the left, across the gutter, appears a poem, complete on one page.’
    • ‘The gutter, that tight space of the spine that is pinched by the binding, is the one irrefutable physical fact of a book's existence as an object.’
    • ‘This stuff works in the gutters - the spaces between the panels, and between the pictures and words.’
    • ‘The blocks of text are placed carefully but without regard to page margin or gutters - so the space of the text is ‘freed.’’
    • ‘The researchers also analyzed flakes of leftover pigments found in the gutters (inner margins) of the books.’
    • ‘A gutter margin helps ensure that text isn't obscured by the binding.’


  • 1no object (of a candle or flame) flicker and burn unsteadily.

    • ‘Below them, outside the windows was the soft glow of her anchor light beacon and across the room the candle guttered and went out.’
    • ‘Torches on the walls guttered and popped, casting a dim, flickering light over the stone walls.’
    • ‘After we said it a few times I felt the temperature of the room begin to decrease and the candles guttered out for a moment before coming back full force.’
    • ‘She turned around and sprinted down the corridor, her candle guttered out, and she was plunged into complete darkness.’
    • ‘The old porch light bulb guttered, then rallied back.’
    • ‘Shadows lifted from the floor like a flock of birds rising into the horizon, and light guttered throughout the room, slapping away the dark for good.’
    • ‘It is hours since the campfire guttered to ash, but the stars remain alight, burning with fluid intensity.’
    • ‘As the day veered towards its pre-destined conclusion, the blue waters of the Indian Ocean glistened briefly, much like the last flicker of a guttering candle.’
    • ‘Every now and then there was a gust and all the lamps guttered perilously.’
    • ‘It was early evening, and the room was lighted by candles that guttered from time to time as an errant draught of air caught at them.’
    • ‘The window was open and now and then the thin curtains stirred and the candle guttered.’
    • ‘The light flickered uncertainly for a moment like a guttering candle.’
    • ‘Torches guttered in iron sconces set about the cavern and cabinets emerged at bizarre angles from ancient columns of stone etched with unnatural runes.’
    • ‘A blast of fire surged at him, but a single blade sweep tore it apart, the flames guttering into silence.’
    • ‘His voice has taken on a hoarse note, a rough edge which hints at a time - not so long ago - when his own candle guttered, flickered and somehow didn't blow out.’
    • ‘Other flyers were still fluttering from lampposts and stuck on empty buildings, some with candles guttering out beneath them.’
    • ‘Eventually, the besotted warriors either passed out or crawled away as the torches guttered and smoked into mere embers.’
    • ‘He'd gotten about four sentences into it when a small gust of wind made the candles gutter and flicker, and made the incense smoke swirl and twist.’
    • ‘They didn't seem to notice the wind started to howl through the town, making their torches gutter and their horses rear nervously.’
    • ‘The candle flickered, and after a moment, the little flame guttered out.’
    glimmer, glint, gleam, flare, shine, dance, gutter
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  • 2archaic with object Make channels or furrows in (something)

    ‘my cheeks are guttered with tears’
    • ‘Lapping against the ship's immense, rust-coloured flanks is a rippling sea of undulating hills covered with callitris pines and guttered by creeks lined with river red gums.’
    1. 2.1gutter downno object Flow in streams.
      ‘the raindrops gutter down her visage’
      • ‘Until tomorrow, when the rain will gutter down streams and we will dash for cover, I will smile my way to sleep, low-flying planes and yelling teenage drinkers won't touch me.’
      • ‘So as the raindrops guttered down my windshield, I started off.’


Middle English: from Old French gotiere, from Latin gutta ‘a drop’; the verb dates from late Middle English, originally meaning ‘cut grooves in’ and later (early 18th century) used of a candle which melts rapidly because it has become channelled on one side.