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From Middle English dep, from Old English dēop (deep, profound; awful, mysterious; heinous; serious, solemn, earnest; extreme, great), from Proto-Germanic *deupaz (deep), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰéwbus, from *dʰewb- (deep). Cognate with Scots depe (deep), Saterland Frisian djoop (deep), West Frisian djip (deep), Low German deep (deep), Dutch diep (deep), German tief (deep), Danish dyb (deep), Norwegian Bokmål dyp (deep), Norwegian Nynorsk and Swedish djup (deep), Icelandic djúpur (deep), Lithuanian dubùs (deep, hollow), Albanian det (sea), Welsh dwfn (deep).



deep (comparative deeper, superlative deepest)

  1. (heading, of a physical distance) Extending far away from a point of reference, especially downwards.
    1. Extending far down from the top or surface; having its bottom far down.
      We hiked into a deep valley between tall mountains.
      There was a deep layer of dust on the floor; the room had not been disturbed for many years.
    2. Far in extent in another (non-downwards, but generally also non-upwards) direction away from a point of reference.
      The shelves are 30 centimetres deep. — They are deep shelves.
    3. In a (specified) number of rows or layers.
      a crowd three deep along the funeral procession
    4. Thick.
      That cyclist's deep chest allows him to draw more air.
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 5, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
        Here, in the transept and choir, where the service was being held, one was conscious every moment of an increasing brightness; colours glowing vividly beneath the circular chandeliers, and the rows of small lights on the choristers' desks flashed and sparkled in front of the boys' faces, deep linen collars, and red neckbands.
    5. Voluminous.
      to take a deep breath / sigh / drink
      • 1915, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price, chapterI:
        Serene, smiling, enigmatic, she faced him with no fear whatever showing in her dark eyes. [] She put back a truant curl from her forehead where it had sought egress to the world, and looked him full in the face now, drawing a deep breath which caused the round of her bosom to lift the lace at her throat.
    6. A long way inside; situated far in or back.
      deep into the forest;  deep in the forest
      1. (cricket, baseball, softball) Far from the center of the playing area, near to the boundary of the playing area, either in absolute terms or relative to a point of reference.
        He is fielding at deep mid wicket.
        She hit a ball into deep center field.
      2. (sports, soccer, tennis) A long way forward.
        a deep volley
      3. (American football) Relatively farther downfield.
  2. (heading, intellectual, social) Complex, involved.
    1. Profound, having great meaning or import, but possibly obscure or not obvious.
      That is a deep thought!
    2. To a significant, not superficial, extent.
      I just meant to help out a little, but now I'm deep into it.
      They're deep in discussion.
    3. Hard to penetrate or comprehend; profound; intricate; obscure.
      a deep subject or plot
      • c. 1840, Thomas De Quincey:
        Why it was that the ancients had no landscape painting, is a question deep almost as the mystery of life, and harder of solution than all the problems of jurisprudence combined.
    4. Of penetrating or far-reaching intellect; not superficial; thoroughly skilled; sagacious; cunning.
  3. (sound, voice) Low in pitch.
    She has a very deep contralto voice.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 5, in A Cuckoo in the Nest:
      The departure was not unduly prolonged. [] Within the door Mrs. Spoker hastily imparted to Mrs. Love a few final sentiments on the subject of Divine Intention in the disposition of buckets; farewells and last commiserations; a deep, guttural instigation to the horse; and the wheels of the waggonette crunched heavily away into obscurity.
  4. (of a color) Dark and highly saturated.
    That's a very deep shade of blue.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity:
      The day was cool and snappy for August, and the Rise all green with a lavish nature. Now we plunged into a deep shade with the boughs lacing each other overhead, and crossed dainty, rustic bridges over the cold trout-streams, the boards giving back the clatter of our horses' feet: [].
  5. (sleep) Sound, heavy (describing a state of sleep from which one is not easily awoken).
    He was in a deep sleep.
  6. Immersed, submerged (in).
    deep in debt;  deep in the mud;  waist-deep in the muddy water
  7. Muddy; boggy; sandy; said of roads.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Edward Hyde:
      The ways in that vale were very deep.





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See alsoEdit



deep (comparative more deep, superlative most deep)

  1. Deeply.
    • Milton:
      Deep-versed in books, and shallow in himself.
    • Alexander Pope:
      Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
    • 1992, Rudolf M. Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, page vii
      Hepaticology, outside the temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere, still lies deep in the shadow cast by that ultimate "closet taxonomist," Franz Stephani—a ghost whose shadow falls over us all.



deep (countable and uncountable, plural deeps)

  1. (literary, with "the") The deep part of a lake, sea, etc.
    creatures of the deep
  2. (rare) A deep shade of colour.
    • 2014, William H. Gass, On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry (page 59)
      For our blues we have the azures and ceruleans, lapis lazulis, the light and dusty, the powder blues, the deeps: royal, sapphire, navy, and marine []
  3. (US, rare) The profound part of a problem.
  4. (with "the") The sea, the ocean.
  5. (cricket) A fielding position near the boundary.
    Russell is a safe pair of hands in the deep.


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit

See alsoEdit


Central FranconianEdit

Alternative formsEdit

  • deef (northern Moselle Franconian; now predominant in Ripuarian)
  • dief (southern Moselle Franconian)


One of several Ripuarian relict words with an unshifted post-vocalic plosive. Compare Aap (ape), söke (to seek).



deep (masculine deepe, feminine deep, comparativer deeper, superlative et deepste)

  1. (Ripuarian, archaic in many dialects) deep