[geyps, gaps]

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 formsgap·y, adjective


[geyp, gap]

verb (used without object), gaped, gap·ing.

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.

Origin of gape

1175–1225; Middle English < Old Norse gapa to open the mouth wide; compare German gaffen
Related formsgap·ing·ly, adverbsub·gape, verb (used without object), sub·gaped, sub·gap·ing.un·gap·ing, adjective

Synonyms for gape

1. See gaze. 2, 3. yawn. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gapes

Historical Examples of gapes

  • Run with open eyes into the mouth of that destruction that gapes to devour thee!


    William Godwin

  • 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

  • Your scrip, a-swinging by your side, Gapes with a gaunt mouth hungry-wide.

  • A clean-cut wound that gapes wide is most desired by all parties.

    Three Men on the Bummel

    Jerome K. Jerome

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for gapes


noun (functioning as singular)

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 Formsgapy, adjective


verb (intr)

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 openthe 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 for gape

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

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