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gut·ter (gŭtər)
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n.
1. A channel at the edge of a street or road for carrying off surface water.
2. A trough fixed under or along the eaves for draining rainwater from a roof. Also called regionally eaves trough, rainspout, spouting.
3. A furrow or groove formed by running water.
4. A trough or channel for carrying something off, such as that on either side of a bowling alley or that almost level with the water in some swimming pools.
5. Printing The white space formed by the inner margins of two facing pages, as of a book.
6. A degraded and squalid class or state of human existence.
v. gut·tered, gut·ter·ing, gut·ters
v.tr.
1. To form gutters or furrows in: Heavy rain guttered the hillside.
2. To provide with gutters.
v.intr.
1. To flow in channels or rivulets: Rainwater guttered along the curb.
2. To melt away through the side of the hollow formed by a burning wick. Used of a candle.
3. To burn low and unsteadily; flicker: The flame guttered in the lamp.
adj.
Vulgar, sordid, or unprincipled: gutter language; the gutter press.

[Middle English goter, guter, from Old French gotier, from gote, drop, from Latin gutta.]

Our Living Language Certain household words have proved important as markers for major US dialect boundaries. The channels along the edge of a roof for carrying away rainwater (normally referred to in the plural) are variously known as eaves troughs in parts of New England, the Great Lakes states, and the West; spouting or rainspouts in eastern Pennsylvania and the Delmarva Peninsula; and gutters from Virginia southward. Historically, along the Atlantic coast, the transition points have marked unusually clear boundaries for the three major dialect areasNorthern, Midland, and Southerntraditionally acknowledged by scholars of American dialects. Nowadays, however, Southern gutters has become widely established as the standard US term. See Note at andiron.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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