gulf

gulf, chasm, abysm, abyss basically denote a hollow place of vast width and depth in the earth. Gulf and chasm suggest a depth which, though vast, is still measurable; abysm and abyss suggest immeasurable depth.
Gulf is the most general term and may properly be used of any wide and deep hollow place
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slippery cliffs arise close to deep gulfsBryant

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In its extended use gulf suggests separation by a great, often unbridgeable distance
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the broad and deep gulf which . . . divides the living from the dead— Inge

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a mere physical gulf they could bridge . . . but the gulf of dislike is impassable and eternal— Shaw

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Chasm adds the implication of a deep and sometimes wide breach in a formerly solid surface
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the chasm of the Grand Canyon, worn by the Colorado river

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the brink of a precipice, of a chasm in the earth over two hundred feet deep, the sides sheer cliffs— Cather

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In extended use chasm still stresses a sharp break in continuity
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those chasms of momentary indifference and boredom which gape from time to time between even the most ardent lovers— Huxley

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Abysm and abyss may designate the bottomless gulf or cavity of ancient cosmogonies and both have been applied to hell when thought of as a bottomless pit; in other applications they usually connote not only fathom- lessness but also darkness and horror.
Abysm is somewhat old-fashioned
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when my good stars . . . have empty left their orbs, and shot their fires into the abysm of hell— Shak.

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what seest thou else in the dark backward and abysm of time?— Shak.

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Abyss is commoner in general modern use
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the abyss of Tartarus, fast secured with iron gates— Thirlwall

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and, like abysm, it carries over into its extended uses the notion of vast, immeasurable void
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the respectability and prosperity of the propertied and middle classes who grew rich on sweated labor covered an abyss of horror— Shaw

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New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gulf — can refer to: *A gulf, usually referring to a large bay that is an arm of an ocean or sea. For example, the Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world. * Gulf is also a novella by Robert A. Heinlein. * A company, see Gulf Oil… …   Wikipedia

  • Gulf — (g[u^]lf), n. [F. golfe, It. golfo, fr. Gr. ko lpos bosom, bay, gulf, LGr. ko lfos.] 1. A hollow place in the earth; an abyss; a deep chasm or basin, [1913 Webster] He then surveyed Hell and the gulf between. Milton. [1913 Webster] Between us and …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • gulf — [ gʌlf ] noun count 1. ) a large area of ocean that is almost surrounded by land: the Persian Gulf the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand 2. ) a large and important difference between people or groups: CHASM: trying to close the widening gulf… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Gulf — steht für: Gulf Air, Fluggesellschaft Gulf College, College in Oman Gulf County, County in Florida Gulf (North Carolina), Ort in den Vereinigten Staaten Gulf Oil, amerikanischer Ölkonzern Gulf (Papua Neuguinea), Provinz von Papua Neuguinea Siehe… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • gulf — W3 [gʌlf] n [Date: 1300 1400; : French; Origin: golfe, from Greek kolpos arms folded around, bay ] 1.) a large area of sea partly enclosed by land ▪ the Gulf of Mexico 2.) the Gulf the Arabian Gulf, or the countries next to it ▪ …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • gulf — (n.) late 14c., profound depth; geographic sense is c.1400; from O.Fr. golf a gulf, whirlpool, from It. golfo a gulf, a bay, from L.L. colfos, from Gk. kolpos bay, gulf, earlier trough between waves, fold of a garment, originally bosom, the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • gulf — [gʌlf] noun [countable] 1. a great difference or lack of understanding between two groups of people: gulf between • The South African Government must intervene to reduce the gulf between white wealth and black poverty. 2. a big difference between …   Financial and business terms

  • gulf — [gulf] n. [ME goulf < OFr golfe < It golfo < LGr kolphos, for Gr kolpos, a fold, bosom, gulf, prob. < IE * kwolpos < base * kwel , to turn > Ger wölben, to arch] 1. a large body of sea or ocean water, typically larger than a bay …   English World dictionary

  • gulf — gulf, bay In their meanings to do with the sealine, bay is the ordinary word, whereas gulf is chiefly reserved as a name for a large or notable stretch of sea (as in the Persian Gulf which is also known as the Gulf) and implies a deeper recess… …   Modern English usage

  • gulf — [n1] sea inlet basin, bay, bayou, bight, cove, firth, harbor, slough, sound, whirlpool; concepts 509,514 gulf [n2] deep, gaping hole abyss, breach, cave, cavity, chasm, cleft, crevasse, depth, depths, distance, expanse, gap, gulch, hiatus, hollow …   New thesaurus

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