from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To open the mouth wide; yawn.
  • intransitive v. To stare wonderingly or stupidly, often with the mouth open. See Synonyms at gaze.
  • intransitive v. To open wide: The curtains gaped when the wind blew.
  • n. The act or an instance of gaping.
  • n. A large opening.
  • n. Zoology The width of the space between the open jaws or mandibles of a vertebrate.
  • n. A disease of birds, especially young domesticated chickens and turkeys, caused by gapeworms and resulting in obstructed breathing.
  • n. A fit of yawning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To open the mouth wide, especially involuntarily, as in a yawn, anger, or surprise.
  • v. To stare in wonder.
  • v. To open wide; to display a gap.
  • n. An act of gaping; a yawn.
  • n. A large opening.
  • n. A disease in poultry caused by gapeworm in the windpipe, a symptom of which is frequent gaping.
  • n. The width of the mouth (of a bird, fish, etc.) when it is open.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of gaping; a yawn.
  • n. The width of the mouth when opened, as of birds, fishes, etc.
  • intransitive v. To open the mouth wide.
  • intransitive v. Expressing a desire for food.
  • intransitive v. Indicating sleepiness or indifference; to yawn.
  • intransitive v. Showing unselfconsciousness in surprise, astonishment, expectation, etc.
  • intransitive v. Manifesting a desire to injure, devour, or overcome.
  • intransitive v. To open or part widely; to exhibit a gap, fissure, or hiatus.
  • intransitive v. To long, wait eagerly, or cry aloud for something; -- with for, after, or at.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To open the mouth involuntarily or as the result of weariness, sleepiness, or absorbed attention; yawn.
  • According to the inducing cause of the gaping, the verb, without losing its literal meaning, usually takes on an additional specific sense.
  • To yawn from sleepiness, weariness, or dullness.
  • To open the mouth for food, as young birds.
  • Hence — To open the mouth in eager expectation; expect, await, or hope for, with the intent to receive or devour. See phrases below.
  • To stand with open mouth in wonder, astonishment, or admiration; stand and gaze; stare. See phrases below, and gaping.
  • To open as a gap, fissure, or chasm; split open; become fissured; show a fissure.
  • To stand in eager expectation of; covet; desire; long for.
  • To covet, desire; long for.
  • Synonyms Gaze, etc. See stare.
  • n. The act of gaping.
  • n. A fit of yawning: commonly in the plural.
  • n. In zoology:
  • n. The width of the mouth when opened; the interval between the upper and under mandibles; the rictus, or commissural line. See first cut under bill.
  • n. The gap or interval between the valves of a bivalve mollusk where the edges of the valves do not fit together when the shell is shut. See gaper, 4.
  • n. plural A disease of young poultry, caused by the presence of a nematoid worm or strongyle (Syngamus trachealis) in the windpipe, attended by frequent gaping as a symptom.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. look with amazement; look stupidly
  • v. be wide open
  • n. a stare of amazement (usually with the mouth open)
  • n. an expression of openmouthed astonishment


Middle English gapen, from Old Norse gapa.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English gapen, from Old Norse gapa ("to gape") (compare Swedish gapa, Danish gabe), from Proto-Germanic *gapōnan (descendants Middle English geapen, Dutch gapen, German gaffen), perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *ghēp-. (Wiktionary)



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