• synonyms


verb (used with object)
  1. to deceive, trick, or cheat.
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  1. a person who is easily deceived or cheated; dupe.
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Origin of gull2

First recorded in 1540–50; perhaps akin to obsolete gull to swallow, guzzle


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

fool, mislead, dupe, trick, defraud, deceive, gyp, hoodwink, bamboozle

Examples from the Web for gulling

Historical Examples

  • For the gulling, tell me, is it humane to talk so to this poor old man?

    The Confidence-Man

    Herman Melville

  • What damned cozening, gulling, and coney-catching have we here!

  • The gulling of Gloster, again, recalls the gulling of Othello.

  • I felt sure it would be useless to warn her, so completely had the Count succeeded in gulling her; but I took my own steps.

  • No talent in the deception of individuals or the gulling of the crowd can of itself bring the great reward.

    The Mercy of Allah

    Hilaire Belloc

British Dictionary definitions for gulling


  1. 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 CharadriiformesRelated adjective: larine
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Derived Formsgull-like, adjective

Word Origin

C15: of Celtic origin; compare Welsh gwylan


  1. a person who is easily fooled or cheated
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  1. (tr) to fool, cheat, or hoax
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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

Word Origin and History for gulling



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)).

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper