My Japanese-English dictionary gives valley, gorge, ravine, canyon, and gully as the translation of Japanese 谷(たに). So far I've only found that valley is wide/big, gorge and ravine are deep and narrow, and that canyon is larger and gully is smaller than ravine and gorge. None of my dictionaries gives the difference of gorge and ravine. What are the differences between these five? Are any of them interchangeable with another in some cases? Thank you.

  • 3
    In general, a valley or canyon are created in nature over long periods of time. And I suppose a canyon has steeper sides while a valley follows the natural terrain and can cover a large area. gorge and ravine are smaller and can be created in a shorter period of time, such as due to flooding. A gully is a very short term, small scale affair. If rain water runs through my yard, it might create a gully in the dirt.
    – user3169
    Apr 24, 2017 at 5:53

2 Answers 2


Your definitions are basically correct - any more analysis and you are nitpicking. However, try a Google search to confirm yourself :)

Here is the top image for each word:


Gorge: enter image description here


Canyon: enter image description here



My understanding is a gorge must have a stream running through it. Ravine is a more general term. It may or may not have a stream in it. Thus, a gorge can be called a ravine too, but you can't call a dry ravine a gorge.

  • There are many gorges in my part of the world that have no stream in them. Although they would have been created by a river originally.
    – Chenmunka
    Aug 27, 2023 at 7:21
  • That's not surprising. E.g. if China's 3-Gorges ever becomes dry, the name would not change because in this case, 3-Gorges has become a pronoun, which doesn't have to follow the definition of gorge because a name is just a name.
    – Alex
    Aug 28, 2023 at 11:34

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