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[guhlf] /gʌlf/
a portion of an ocean or sea partly enclosed by land.
a deep hollow; chasm or abyss.
any wide separation, as in position, status, or education.
something that engulfs or swallows up.
verb (used with object)
to swallow up; engulf.
Origin of gulf
1300-50; Middle English go(u)lf < Old French golfe < Italian golfo < Late Greek kólphos, Greek kólpos bosom, lap, bay
Related forms
gulflike, adjective
gulfy, adjective
Can be confused
bay, cove, gulf, inlet.
2. canyon, gorge, gully, cleft, rift, split. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gulf
  • My friends' dads worked shifts out on the oil rigs in the gulf.
  • Key to the gulf's productivity are its marshes, the nurseries of the sea.
  • The gulf between these mind-sets is wide.
  • The gulf between his reputation abroad and his predicament at home is amazing.
  • It doesn't matter how big the gulf in users is if neither of them make any money.
  • And the gulf between political rhetoric and financial reality is often vast.
  • This inevitably caulks up the gulf separating advertising and the newsroom.
  • In Florida (on the gulf side) they hatch in the spring.
  • And straightway, grown dim on the gulf, passed the isles he passed never again.
  • It can bridge the gulf between empirical fact and intuitive insight.
British Dictionary definitions for gulf


a large deep bay
a deep chasm
something that divides or separates, such as a lack of understanding
something that engulfs, such as a whirlpool
(transitive) to swallow up; engulf
Derived Forms
gulflike, adjective
gulfy, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French golfe, from Italian golfo, from Greek kolpos


noun the Gulf
the Persian Gulf
  1. the Gulf of Carpentaria
  2. (modifier) of, relating to, or adjoining the Gulf: Gulf country
(NZ) the Hauraki Gulf
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
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Word Origin and History for gulf

late 14c., "profound depth;" geographic sense is c.1400; from Old French golf "a gulf, whirlpool," from Italian golfo "a gulf, a bay," from Late Latin colfos, from Greek kolpos "bay, gulf," earlier "trough between waves, fold of a garment," originally "bosom," the common notion being "curved shape," from PIE *kwelp- "to arch, to vault" (cf. Old English hwealf, a-hwielfan "to overwhelm"). Latin sinus underwent the same development, being used first for "bosom," later for "gulf." Replaced Old English sæ-earm. Figurative sense of "a wide interval" is from 1550s. The Gulf Stream (1775) takes its name from the Gulf of Mexico.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gulf in Science
A large body of ocean or sea water that is partly surrounded by land.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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