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[guhl] /gʌl/
any of numerous long-winged, web-toed, aquatic birds of the family Laridae, having usually white plumage with a gray back and wings.
Origin of gull1
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English gulle, perhaps < Welsh gŵylan, Cornish guilan (compare French goéland < Breton gwelan)
Related forms
gull-like, adjective


[guhl] /gʌl/
verb (used with object)
to deceive, trick, or cheat.
a person who is easily deceived or cheated; dupe.
1540-50; perhaps akin to obsolete gull to swallow, guzzle
1. cozen, dupe, fool, bamboozle, hoodwink. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gull
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Without further ceremony, he was again confined, in a small cupboard-like cavity, close to the hostelry of the gull's Nest.

    The Buccaneer Mrs. S. C. Hall
  • Lejoillie told us that they were of the gull tribe, about twenty inches in length.

    In the Wilds of Florida W.H.G. Kingston
  • A few seconds carried them out of sight, and thus, as regards the gull Lightship, the drama ended.

    Battles with the Sea R.M. Ballantyne
  • No; I saw only the sea and on the horizon a stain of smoke, and a gull flying.

    Athalie Robert W. Chambers
  • When we reached the channel we found it white with foam, and soon our little boat was tossed upon the waves like a gull.

    Paris: With Pen and Pencil David W. Bartlett
  • It was not the melancholy cry of a gull, but of a woman or child in distress.

    Cornwall's Wonderland Mabel Quiller-Couch
  • They appeared to be similar to the English gull, with a slate-coloured back and wings, and white breast.

  • Yes, I feel just as if I was a gull, Sep, and someone had shot me.

    Devon Boys George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for gull


any aquatic bird of the genus Larus and related genera, such as L. canus (common gull or mew) having long pointed wings, short legs, and a mostly white plumage: family Laridae, order Charadriiformes related adjective larine
Derived Forms
gull-like, adjective
Word Origin
C15: of Celtic origin; compare Welsh gwylan


a person who is easily fooled or cheated
(transitive) to fool, cheat, or hoax
Word Origin
C16: perhaps from dialect gull unfledged bird, probably from gul, from Old Norse gulr yellow
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 gull

shore bird, early 15c. (in a cook book), probably from Brythonic Celtic, cf. Welsh gwylan "gull," Cornish guilan, Breton goelann; all from Old Celtic *voilenno-. Replaced Old English mæw (see mew (n.1)).

cant term for "dupe, sucker, credulous person," 1590s, of uncertain origin. Perhaps from verb meaning "to dupe, cheat" (1540s), earlier "to swallow" (1520s), ultimately from gull "throat, gullet" (early 15c.); see gullet. Or it is perhaps from (or influenced by) the bird (see gull (n.1)); in either case with a sense of "someone who will swallow anything thrown at him." Another possibility is Middle English dialectal gull "newly hatched bird" (late 14c.), which is perhaps from Old Norse golr "yellow," from the hue of its down.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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