Etymology and Derivation of the term "Gaper"
So in an effort to get to the bottom (ahem, more on this later...) of this term I spent some time researching online at various dictionaries. The usual dictionaries such as American Heritage were not of much use other than to establish that gape is derived from the old norse gapa
via the middle english gapen.
Apparently there is also an avian disease that goes by the name gapes but this has nothing to do with what a bird may do to a gaper:gape PRONUNCIATION: gp, gpINTRANSITIVE VERB:Inflected forms: gaped, gap·ing, gapes1. To open the mouth wide; yawn. 2. To stare wonderingly or stupidly, often with the mouth open. See synonyms at gaze. 3. To open wide: The curtains gaped when the wind blew. NOUN:1. The act or an instance of gaping. 2. A large opening. 3. Zoology The width of the space between the open jaws or mandibles of a vertebrate. 4. gapes (used with a sing. verb) A disease of birds, especially young domesticated chickens and turkeys, caused by gapeworms and resulting in obstructed breathing. 5. gapes A fit of yawning. ETYMOLOGY:Middle English gapen, from Old Norse gapa
Gap, on the other hand, while pronounced differently apparently shares a common origin in the Old Norse. The definitions for gape and gap are separate indicating that at some point in time a perhaps similar root went in different directions:gap PRONUNCIATION: gpNOUN:1a. An opening in a solid structure or surface; a cleft or breach: wriggled through a gap in the fence; a large gap in the wall where the artillery shell had exploded. b. A break in a line of defense. 2. An opening through mountains; a pass. 3. A space between objects or points; an aperture: a gap between his front teeth. 4. An interruption of continuity: a nine-minute gap in the recorded conversation; needed to fill in the gaps in her knowledge. 5a. A conspicuous difference or imbalance; a disparity: a gap between revenue and spending; the widening gap between rich and poor. b. A problematic situation resulting from such a disparity: the budget gap; the technology gap. 6. A spark gap. 7. Computer Science An absence of information on a recording medium, often used to signal the end of a segment of information. 8. Electronics The distance between the head of a recording device and the surface of the recording medium. VERB:Inflected forms: gapped, gap·ping, gapsTRANSITIVE VERB:To make an opening in. INTRANSITIVE VERB:To be or become open. ETYMOLOGY:Middle English, from Old Norse, chasm.
Returning to a more contemporary resource, urbandictionary.com, we find at least two main definitions provided in 21 different self-refering entries. Interestingly enough, despite the apparent discrepancy between gap and gape as noted above and by others in this thread, most of the definitions relating to skiing and snowboarding in UD.com do refer to the infamous goggle/hat gap at the same time that they mention the gaping expression on the face as the main source of the term. The following are fairly typical:I) Gaper:A gaper is a skiier or snowboarder who is completely clueless. Usually distiungished by their bright colored clothes and a gaper gap, the gap between goggles and a helment/hat. Gapers also do the "Gaper Tuck" which is an attempt at being a ski racer by tucking, however, it is done incorrectly with the poles sticking straight up like thunderbolts and lighting, very very frightning! Gapers also sit at the bottom of jumps and try and go big off table tops in the park.1. My eyes are burning from that gapers bright colored clothes.2. I fell off the chair laughing at that gaper tuck.3. Did you just see that gaper getting landed on because he was sitting like a dumbass at the landing of a jump.II) Gaper:A person found at ski resorts that:1. is not from anywhere near the resort2. Looks like an idiot on the mountain and takes gigantic turns on flat cat tracks3. is totally oblivious to the fact that they look like an idiot and are skiing icy bumps directly under the lift when there is powder stashed all over mountain, or stashed in the trees right next to them.Known for the "gaping" space between their hat and goggles.Oh no! its presidents day weekend? The gapers will be out in full swing putting up yard sales.III.) Gaper:1) noun: One who cannot do, and is generally found as an amazed onlooker when viewing any display of actual skill. Often relating to snowsports. syn; jong, nOOb2) adj: As pertaining to one who is a gaper.saw some gaper come up way short on that gap, looked really painful.I can't believe I ate it on a gaper slope like that.
We notice that some of the above-referenced definitions incorporate other terms used elsewhere in this thread such as jong and yard (or yahd) sale further adding to their credibility as truly sourced.
Finally, and most disturbingly, there is yet another current meaning for the word gaper as follows:Gaper:a "certain orifice" (Ed. note- somewhat altered from the original since this is a family website) that's been used and abused so often that it doesn't readily close when an object (penis, dildo, zucchini, etc.) is removed from it."This porn whore is a vet! she's got a gaper!"
We note that since the purpose of this thread is to provide advice and guidance to our European colleagues, and further note that since the French overwhelmingly prefer to take medications in the form of suppositories, we would politely suggest the above-referenced use of the term "Gaper" may be the cause for some confusion (
and should therefore be avoided unless one is absolutely certain of the context.