There are 2 main definitions of gopher in English:


Line breaks: go¦pher
Pronunciation: /ˈɡəʊfə


1 (also pocket gopher) A burrowing rodent with fur-lined pouches on the outside of the cheeks, found in North and Central America.
  • Family Geomyidae: several genera and species
More example sentences
  • First, it is likely that the bag fragment was carried underground by a squirrel, gopher or other burrowing rodent.
  • Rodenticides control rats, mice, gophers, and other rodent pests of human habitation and agriculture.
  • Experiments revealed the same cells that have also been discovered in rats, gophers, gerbils, mice, and hamsters.
1.1 North American term for ground squirrel.
More example sentences
  • Richardson's ground squirrels (Spermophilus richardsonii), colloquially known as gophers, are medium-sized rodents; they are larger than mice and voles.
  • What most people call gophers are either 13-lined ground squirrels, Spermophilus tridecemlineatus, or a Richardson’s ground squirrel, Spermophilus richardsonii, and not a true pocket gopher.
2 (also gopher tortoise) A tortoise of dry sandy regions that excavates tunnels as shelter from the sun, native to the southern US.
  • Gopherus polyphemus, family Testudinidae
More example sentences
  • However, the northernmost range of the gopher tortoise is limited to southern South Carolina.
  • Curious about the burrows she saw on a trail ride, Dawn investigated the habitat of a Florida neighbor - the gopher tortoise.
  • The eastern indigo snake, which is on the federal list of threatened species, and the gopher tortoise also live here.
2.1 [usually as modifier] North American Any of a number of burrowing reptiles and amphibians.
More example sentences
  • Because of the small number of remaining Mississippi gopher frogs, the species is extremely vulnerable to even natural processes such as drought and floods, and to further loss, damage, and fragmentation of its habitat.
  • The Mississippi gopher frog formerly occurred in the once extensive longleaf pine forests of the lower coastal plain from east of the Mississippi River in Louisiana to the Mobile River delta in Alabama.
  • The Mississippi gopher frog (Rana capita sevosa) was once found in suitable habitat within the Lower Coastal Plain from Florida to eastern Louisiana.
3 (also Gopher) Computing A menu-based system for Internet searching and document retrieval, largely superseded by the World Wide Web.
[1990s: named after the gopher mascot of the University of Minnesota, US, where the system was invented]
More example sentences
  • The Gopher system enabled documents to be listed in a readable, hierarchical method that was relatively easy to navigate.
  • A Gopher site was initially put into place in 1993, and then replaced in 1994 by a Web site.
  • Think of what the world would look like today if we had standardized the Gopher protocol in the early 1990s.


late 18th century: perhaps from Canadian French gaufre 'honeycomb' (because the gopher ‘honeycombs’ the ground with its burrows).

Definition of gopher in: