Definition of gulf in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ɡəlf/


1A deep inlet of the sea almost surrounded by land, with a narrow mouth.
Example sentences
  • The land companies began to dredge canals through the marshlands, opening easy access from the settled towns on land to the gulf.
  • Dangerous Reef, located at the mouth of the gulf, is home to the great white shark.
  • The day before, I'd taken a tour boat for a ten-hour wildlife cruise into the gulf and fjords west of town.
1.1 (the Gulf) informal name for Persian Gulf.
2A deep ravine, chasm, or abyss.
Example sentences
  • 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.
hole, crevasse, fissure, cleft, split, rift, pit, cavity, chasm, abyss, void;
3A large difference or division between two people or groups, or between viewpoints, concepts, or situations: a wide gulf between theory and practice
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • The activities of these aggressive and communal forces further widen the gulf between different communities.
  • The two sides remain sharply polarised, and periodic attempts to bridge the wide gulf between them have fizzled out.
divide, division, separation, gap, breach, rift, split, chasm, abyss;
difference, contrast, polarity


Late Middle English: from Old French golfe, from Italian golfo, based on Greek kolpos 'bosom, gulf'.

  • The Greek word kolpos had a number of meanings relating to a curved shape, including ‘bosom’, ‘the trough between waves’, ‘the fold of a piece of clothing’, and ‘gulf or bay’. This is where our word gulf came from, via Italian and Old French. We can talk about a gulf between two groups, meaning a great division or difference between them. This was probably influenced by a passage in the Gospel of Luke: ‘Between you and us there is a great gulf set’.

Words that rhyme with gulf

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.