Meaning of GAP in English

gap S2 W2 /ɡæp/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Old Norse ; Origin: 'hole, deep narrow valley' ]

1 . A SPACE a space between two objects or two parts of an object, especially because something is missing

gap in

The neighbors’ dog got in through a gap in the hedge.

a gap in the traffic

gap between

the gap between the two rows of seats

2 . DIFFERENCE a big difference between two situations, amounts, groups of people etc ⇨ gulf

gap between

the widening gap between the rich and the poor

⇨ ↑ generation gap

3 . SOMETHING MISSING something missing that stops something else from being good or complete

gap in

There are huge gaps in my knowledge of history.

Frank’s death has left a big gap in my life.

fill/plug the gap

He filled the gap left by Hirst’s retirement.

4 . IN TIME a period of time when nothing is happening, that exists between two other periods of time when something is happening

gap in

an awkward gap in the conversation

gap between

The gaps between his visits got longer and longer.

⇨ ↑ gap year

5 . IN A MOUNTAIN a low place between two higher parts of a mountain

6 . gap in the market a product or service that does not exist, so that there is an opportunity to develop that product or service and sell it

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)


▪ a big/large/wide gap

There’s a big gap between the two test scores.

▪ a huge/substantial etc gap

A huge gap exists between the life styles of the rich and the poor.

▪ a narrow gap

There’s only a narrow gap between the two candidates in the polls.

▪ a yawning gap (=a very big difference)

There’s a yawning gap between the earnings of men and women.

▪ a growing/widening gap

There is a widening gap in the academic performance of boys and girls.

▪ an unbridgeable gap (=a gap that cannot be closed)

He felt that there was an unbridgeable gap between the negotiating positions of the two sides.

▪ a trade gap (=the difference between the amount a country imports and exports)

Britain’s trade gap almost doubled last month.

▪ the gender gap (=the difference between men and women)

The gender gap was visible in the way men and women voted during the presidential elections.

▪ the generation gap (=the difference in attitudes, tastes etc between older and younger people)

Taste in music is a good indicator of the generation gap.

▪ an age gap (=a difference in age between two people)

Despite the age gap, they became good friends.

▪ a cultural gap (=a difference between cultures)

There is a cultural gap between Europe and America on this subject.

■ verbs

▪ bridge/close/narrow the gap (=reduce the amount or importance of a difference)

The book aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice.


The policies are designed to close the gap between rich and poor.

▪ the gap narrows

Polls show the gap between the two candidates has narrowed.

▪ widen the gap

Technology has widened the gap between people with and without computer skills.

▪ the gap widens

The gap is widening between the incomes of the rich and the less well-off.

▪ a gap exists

A cultural gap exists between the older and the younger generations.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.