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[geyps, gaps] /geɪps, gæps/
noun, (used with a singular verb)
Veterinary Pathology. a parasitic disease of poultry and other birds, characterized by frequent gaping due to infestation of the trachea and bronchi with gapeworms.
a fit of yawning.
Origin of gapes
See origin at gape, -s3
Related forms
gapy, adjective


[geyp, gap] /geɪp, gæp/
verb (used without object), gaped, gaping.
to stare with open mouth, as in wonder.
to open the mouth wide involuntarily, as the result of hunger, sleepiness, or absorbed attention.
to open as a gap; split or become open wide.
a wide opening; gap; breach.
an act or instance of gaping.
a stare, as in astonishment or with the mouth wide open.
a yawn.
Zoology. the width of the open mouth.
1175-1225; Middle English < Old Norse gapa to open the mouth wide; compare German gaffen
Related forms
gapingly, adverb
subgape, verb (used without object), subgaped, subgaping.
ungaping, adjective
1. See gaze. 2, 3. yawn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gapes
Historical Examples
  • This disorder, known also as the gapes, is the most common ailment of poultry and all domestic birds.

    Sheep, Swine, and Poultry Robert Jennings
  • What would you do if they got the gapes, and no one would feed them chopped onions?

    Girl Scouts in the Adirondacks Lillian Elizabeth Roy
  • Well indeed I would be that myself, only the half o' them young chickens goin' off with the gapes.

    The Turn of the Road Rutherford Mayne
  • A clean-cut wound that gapes wide is most desired by all parties.

    Three Men on the Bummel Jerome K. Jerome
  • The shell is ventricose, is closed or gapes slightly posteriorly, and has prominent subcentral umbones and an external ligament.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • I have the habit of approaching all things with a feeling of innocence which gapes.

    Two Chancellors Julian Klaczko
  • He must not look at his wife when she sneezes or gapes or eats.

    The Chautauquan, Vol. III, January 1883 The Chautauquan Literary and Scientific Circle
  • White terriers suffer most from distemper; white chickens from the gapes.

    Darwinism (1889) Alfred Russel Wallace
  • She's tender-hearted as a lamb, and'll nuss a chicken with the gapes for half a day.

    The Love Story of Abner Stone Edwin Carlile Litsey
  • No sooner is he in than he gapes out of the window open-mouthed at Miss S——.

    Hodge and His Masters Richard Jefferies
British Dictionary definitions for gapes


noun (functioning as sing)
a disease of young domestic fowl, characterized by gaping or gasping for breath and caused by parasitic worms (gapeworms)
(informal) a fit of yawning
Derived Forms
gapy, adjective


verb (intransitive)
to stare in wonder or amazement, esp with the mouth open
to open the mouth wide, esp involuntarily, as in yawning or hunger
to be or become wide open: the crater gaped under his feet
the act of gaping
a wide opening; breach
the width of the widely opened mouth of a vertebrate
a stare or expression of astonishment
See also gapes
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norse gapa; related to Middle Dutch gapen, Danish gabe
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gapes



early 13c., from an unrecorded Old English word or else from Old Norse gapa "to open the mouth, gape," common West Germanic (cf. Middle Dutch, Dutch gapen, German gaffen "to gape, stare," Swedish gapa, Danish gabe), from PIE *ghai- (see gap). Related: Gaped; gaping. As a noun, from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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