What Does Bridge the Gap Mean?

Bridge the Gap Meaning

Definition: To connect things in a logical way; to have qualities of two different things; to fill in a space between two things.

Essentially, at its minimal meaning, bridge the gap means to diminish the differences between two things. This can be by adding something intermediary, as in, “Scholarships were provided to bridge the gap between students with money and students without money.” or it can mean to find an existing similarity between the two, as in, “Their love of brownies bridged the gap between the two people who otherwise hated each other.”

Origin of Bridge the Gap

meaning of bridge the gapBridge comes from the Old English brycgian, which means to make a causeway. Gap is an early 14th-century word meaning an opening in a wall, a break, a breach.

The broader meaning of unfilled space or interval, any hiatus or interruption didn’t come about until around 1600, and it is likely that the metaphorical meaning of bridge the gap did not come about until after this—not until after the version to stop a gap was popular. Stop a gap, later stopgap, was something contrived to meet an urgent need or emergency.

The earliest newspaper examples of the idiom as seen today were not until the late-1800s, with a May 1888 issue of The Pacific commercial advertiser reading,

  • Two hundred and seven circulating planetary bodies bridge the gap between Jupiter and Mars, the complete investigation of the movements of any of which would overtask the energies of a life-time.

Examples of Bridge the Gap

bridge the gap meaningIn the modern day, this idiom is used in casual conversations as well as in business conversations.

In its most literal meaning, people may say,

  • They are planning to bridge the gap with a 40 foot-long structure this spring.

If there is a noticeable and problematic difference between two things, one could say,

  • They will bridge the gap between German speakers and non-German speakers by providing a translator.

-or-

  • The knowledge gap between those at the top and those at the bottom can only be solved through a change in education.

More Examples

  • Bridging the gap between old and young will not be easy, and is clearly not something the Government can do: no one wants the state telling families how they should live. –The Telegraph
  • We wanted to bridge the gap [between healthy and filling food] and create a palate-satisfying hearty meal that wasn’t heavy. The result? An 85% plant-based menu sprinkled with enough animal protein to feed the soul. –Ocean Drive

Summary

To bridge the gap is to connect two otherwise unrelated things by adding something or by finding common ground.