Looking for a word to describe the opening or widening of a gap. Like, if you are experiencing an earthquake and the earth opened in front of you, how you you describe that with "Oh look, the ground is __________-ing !!"?

Gaping's original word is "gape", so that's definitely incorrect.

Is there word that I can use to describe something like that concisely?


A "gap" that opens in the ground is called a "fissure":

fissure (n): A long, narrow opening or line of breakage made by cracking or splitting, especially in rock or earth.

"Fissure" is also a verb:

fissure (v): Split or crack (something) to form a long, narrow opening.

However, while something can be "fissuring", this is not common -- my online spell checker actually marks it as wrong, despite it being a valid word. Instead it's more common to use one of split, split open, or just open:

Look, a fissure is opening in the ground!

Other words like fissure: crack, cleft, crevice, cleavage, gap.

There are other words used with other materials. Fabric can be rent, ripped, torn, or various others. A pizza can be split, cut, sliced into wedges. Various things can be severed.

And so on. If you provide a specific context, I can tell you the most appropriate options.

  • I like fissuring! It works, people understand it, and who cares about spell checker :p
    – Isa
    Apr 11 '19 at 20:23
  • Okay, I know, I should worry about proper-ness. But I am doing technical writing, where people invent words like, every second anyway. So- why not.
    – Isa
    Apr 11 '19 at 20:24

Well, opening is a pretty good one. The ground doesn't usually do that, so it's certainly something worthy of pointing out.

You could also use splitting. That's a nice everyday word, but it doesn't have quite the urgency of opening, to my mind.

If you were talking about it later, you could say that the ground was cleft (or cleaved, depending on dialect), if you want to be poetic. No-one would say that as it was happening, though.

If there's two separate objects, or two parts of one object separating, you could use to part. Or indeed to separate.

There isn't a verb specifically for "a gap appearing in something". Well, there might be some esoteric word in a dictionary somewhere, but there's no everyday word for that.

  • The earthquake one is only an example actually. I was describing something that has two parts, and a gap started appearing between them. I mean, opening up works, but it is not a very elegant way of saying it. I was just thinking whether there's some other better word for it.
    – Isa
    Mar 15 '19 at 21:14
  • @Isa: I added two more possibilities.
    – SamBC
    Mar 15 '19 at 21:43

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