Definition of gutter in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɡʌtə/


1A shallow trough fixed beneath the edge of a roof for carrying off rainwater.
Example sentences
  • I recall considering grabbing the gutter on the roof edge as it rose past me, but doubted it would do much but slow me for an instant and pull me off balance.
  • They get their water from a big trough replenished by rainwater from the roof gutter on the barn.
  • For watering our garden, we direct rainwater from our roof gutters.
1.1A channel at the side of a street for carrying off rainwater.
Example sentences
  • It was stuck between two narrow residential streets and rode uncomfortably up to the gutters on each side, so that there was no sidewalk adjacent to the lot.
  • The sun shone brightly and the gutters on the side of the street shone and sparkled with the run-off from the melting snow.
  • When morning comes and the street sweepers clean the gutters, they are sometimes followed by vacuum trucks, lest the runoff contaminate the storm drains.
drain, sluice, sluiceway, culvert, spillway, flume, sewer;
channel, conduit, pipe, duct, chute;
trough, trench, ditch, furrow, cut
1.2 (the gutter) Used to refer to a poor or squalid existence or environment: men who had fought their way out of the gutter
More example sentences
  • Now look where rationalism in the context of liberal humanism has taken us - into the gutter of situation ethics.
  • The political party's descent into the gutter continues apace, with plans to further tighten already draconian anti asylum seeker legislation.
  • Why am I independent and able to give my daughter a first-rate education, when other women that had just as good opportunities are in the gutter?
1.3 technical A groove or channel for flowing liquid.
Example sentences
  • Each gutter had become a flowing stream, and each dip in the road had become a ford to traverse.
  • The channel was stuffy and hotter than the outside, with about an inch of water along the bottom flowing down from the gutters and following the slight slant of the tunnel.
  • Make sure there are no cracks or open seams in your gutters or downspouts.
1.4A channel on either side of a lane in a bowling alley.
Example sentences
  • The balls roll down the gutter to the pin end of the lane for return to the bowler.
  • I then do the same thing on the next frame but the ball falls into the gutter and I cover the full rack spare.
2The blank space between facing pages of a book or between adjacent columns of type or stamps in a sheet.
Example sentences
  • The blocks of text are placed carefully but without regard to page margin or gutters - so the space of the text is ‘freed.’
  • This stuff works in the gutters - the spaces between the panels, and between the pictures and words.
  • The gutter, that tight space of the spine that is pinched by the binding, is the one irrefutable physical fact of a book's existence as an object.


1 [no object] (Of a candle or flame) flicker and burn unsteadily.
Example sentences
  • The candle flickered, and after a moment, the little flame guttered out.
  • She turned around and sprinted down the corridor, her candle guttered out, and she was plunged into complete darkness.
  • After we said it a few times I felt the temperature of the room begin to decrease and the candles guttered out for a moment before coming back full force.
2 [with object] archaic Make channels or furrows in (something): my cheeks are guttered with tears
More example sentences
  • Lapping against the ship's immense, rust-coloured flanks is a rippling sea of undulating hills covered with callitris pines and guttered by creeks lined with river red gums.
2.1 [no object] (gutter down) Flow in streams: the raindrops gutter down her visage
More example sentences
  • Until tomorrow, when the rain will gutter down streams and we will dash for cover, I will smile my way to sleep, low-flying planes and yelling teenage drinkers won't touch me.
  • So as the raindrops guttered down my windshield, I started off.


Middle English: from Old French gotiere, from Latin gutta 'a drop'; the verb dates from late Middle English, originally meaning 'cut grooves in' and later (early 18th century) used of a candle which melts rapidly because it has become channelled on one side.

  • ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars,’ wrote Oscar Wilde in Lady Windermere's Fan (1892). A gutter was originally a watercourse, either a natural or an artificial one, and the word comes via Old French gotiere from Latin gutta ‘a drop’. In the 16th century this became ‘a furrow or track made by running water’, from which developed the main modern meaning. The gutter became the habitat of very poor people in the mid 19th century, and newspapers that pursue sensational stories about the private lives of public figures have been known as the gutter press since the end of that century. See also gout

Words that rhyme with gutter

abutter, aflutter, butter, Calcutta, clutter, constructor, cutter, declutter, flutter, mutter, nutter, scutter, shutter, splutter, sputter, strutter, stutter, utter

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: gut¦ter

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