Definition of gulf in US English:



  • 1A deep inlet of the sea almost surrounded by land, with a narrow mouth.

    • ‘You leave the cliffs and promontories and blue sea gulfs behind, and corkscrew inland, past the roadside shrines with their solitary icons and flickering candles.’
    • ‘The land companies began to dredge canals through the marshlands, opening easy access from the settled towns on land to the gulf.’
    • ‘They literally carried their conquests from the gulf of St. Lawrence to the gulf of Mexico.’
    • ‘The day before, I'd taken a tour boat for a ten-hour wildlife cruise into the gulf and fjords west of town.’
    • ‘From here Flinders sailed north into a gulf, which he named Spencer Gulf, and hoped that it would lead him well inland or even to the Gulf of Carpentaria.’
    • ‘All through the shimmering gulf we were accompanied by schools of dolphins, innumerable sea birds and many other manifestations of unfettered Nature at her best.’
    • ‘December 25, 2009 the Chinese let loose a barrage of nukes and strategic missiles on the combined fleets in the Chihli gulf.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, its removal from the political scene was mirrored by the physical removal of the city, believed by most ancient writers to now lie deep below the waters of the Corinthian gulf.’
    • ‘In other countries large bodies of water, greater than many bodies denominated seas, are called lakes, gulfs, or basins.’
    • ‘The helicopter flew in a semi-circle over the Atlantic Ocean and then through the gulf of Mexico around to an island in the Florida Keys.’
    • ‘Picture a remote estuary entrance, a day's travel from anywhere civilised, the tide is deceptive as it rushes in and out of the gulf, shifting the sands into deep spots every day.’
    • ‘Many years more he lived facing the curve of the gulf, the sparkling sea, and the smiles of earth.’
    • ‘As the oil is sucked from the ground, the earth itself subsides, and the oily waters of the gulf of Guinea seep deeper inland, poisoning the heart of these once fertile swamps.’
    • ‘Through a magnifying lens can be admired seas, gulfs, meridians and parallels.’
    • ‘The unique geography of two gulfs separated by vast inland tracts of inhospitable country led the early Australian settlers to rely entirely on coastal trading.’
    • ‘Thus the gulf represents a piece of ocean separated from the main Pacific by the equally large slice of continental crust of Baja California.’
    • ‘Dangerous Reef, located at the mouth of the gulf, is home to the great white shark.’
    • ‘Some parts of the gulf are five times more saline than open oceans.’
    • ‘After their defeat at Marathon, the Persian fleet reportedly sailed into the Saronic gulf and attempted a landing in the bay of Phaleron to the West of Athens.’
    • ‘To the east of the country, the Sinai Peninsula protrudes into the Red Sea between the gulfs of Suez and Aqaba.’
    inlet, creek, bight, fjord, estuary, sound, arm of the sea
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    1. 1.1informal
      a name for Persian Gulf
  • 2A deep ravine, chasm, or abyss.

    • ‘The canyons - or gulfs, as the local people call them - are each about five miles long and 800 feet deep and are rimmed almost continuously by sheer sandstone cliffs.’
    • ‘It wasn't so much a gulf in class, more like a Grand Canyon-style chasm.’
    opening, gap, fissure, cleft, split, rift, crevasse, hole, pit, cavity, chasm, abyss, void
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  • 3A large difference or division between two people or groups, or between viewpoints, concepts, or situations.

    ‘a wide gulf between theory and practice’
    • ‘There used to be a wide gulf between the greater publishing, academic and multilingual communities.’
    • ‘Regional and local differences are not wholly irrelevant but class differences create greater gulfs in our society.’
    • ‘But at a deeper level, a wide gulf separates journalism from the conceptually more demanding task of writing history.’
    • ‘And the generation gulf is set to widen as the number of pensioners in the area is expected to rise by 22 per cent in the next decade.’
    • ‘Apart from the differences in style a gulf of experience also separates the two players.’
    • ‘The two sides remain sharply polarised, and periodic attempts to bridge the wide gulf between them have fizzled out.’
    • ‘The gulf between his differing cricketing spheres is not as marked as it first appears.’
    • ‘Far from resolving the social crisis confronting Maoris, the process widened the social gulf between rich and poor.’
    • ‘However, there is a wide gulf between constructive protest against injustice and the generally destructive practices of war.’
    • ‘Just pointing out that there's a wide gulf of difference between the scientific theory of evolution and the way evolutionary dogma gets perceived by the masses.’
    • ‘Their tax cuts for the wealthy widened a gulf between rich and poor in this country that had already grown shockingly large.’
    • ‘Given the wide gulf between the comparison of per capita income figure and the reality of living people, how meaningful is such a comparison?’
    • ‘According to Mathews, this marked the demise of community-based education and the creation of a wide gulf between the citizenry and its public schools.’
    • ‘Sunderland may be challenging for promotion back to the Premiership, but the gulf between the two divisions was never more evident as Everton eased through virtually without breaking sweat.’
    • ‘Talks between the two sides took place over the holiday season, but little progress was made in bridging the wide gulf between the sides.’
    • ‘The activities of these aggressive and communal forces further widen the gulf between different communities.’
    • ‘Poor training and difficult terrain between them limited the battlefield effectiveness of drill, and there was often a wide gulf between drillbook theory and tactical reality.’
    • ‘We talk about gulfs between divisions but I think there's a massive one between youth and reserve team football.’
    • ‘Far from ending poverty, these economic processes have only widened the gulf between rich and poor.’
    • ‘At the beginning of the twentieth century, philosophers still regarded humans as unique and assumed that a wide gulf separated us from the animal kingdom.’
    divergence, contrast, polarity, divide, division, separation, difference, wide area of difference
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Late Middle English: from Old French golfe, from Italian golfo, based on Greek kolpos ‘bosom, gulf’.