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What Does "Bridge the Gap" Mean?

B. Turner
B. Turner

"Bridge the gap" is an expression that means to forge a connection between two people or groups who share little in common with one another. This phrase may be used by an outsider or by someone belonging to one of these two groups. When using this phrase, the speaker is generally attempting to have the two groups compromise or join forces on an issue or idea. For example, a politician in the United States may enact a policy designed to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats, or even between feuding members of the same party.

Grammatically, "bridge the gap" is considered a type of idiom, or idiomatic expression. An idiom is a device used to imply something beyond the literal meaning of a phrase. For example, one could literally interpret this phrase as physically constructing a bridge over a canyon or valley. Typically, when one uses this phrase, they are not referring to physical bridge building, however. Idiomatically, the phrase means to create ties or connections in a figurative manner, not a literal one.

The phrase "bridge the gap" is common in casual conversations.
The phrase "bridge the gap" is common in casual conversations.

To better understand the concept of bridging the gap, one could consider some potential synonyms for this phrase. For example, a person attempting to bridge a gap could also be said to be reconciling or conciliating between two groups. He is also intervening, or negotiating, or simply making peace. The terms resolve and settle are two more synonyms for this expression.

"Bridge the gap" is widely used in the English language, both in casual conversation and as a popular business or political phrase. It's also found frequently in popular culture, from books to movies to television. One of the benefits to this phrase is that, like most idiomatic expressions, it makes it easy to explain a concept using fewer words. At the same time, it can be confusing for non-native English speakers, who may focus on its literal meaning rather than the widely accepted figurative meaning. It may be seen as a regional or colloquial phrase, though native speakers in most parts of the United States are likely familiar with this phrase.

The majority of the time, the term "bridge the gap" is used to refer to a great difference between two groups of people. Less frequently, it may be also used for other purposes. For example, one may bridge a temporary gap, or chasm. If a key employee at a company takes a month-long leave of absence, the firm may hire or promote other workers to bridge that gap. In this case, these other workers would temporarily fill the role of the permanent employee until he can return to his job.

Discussion Comments


"Bridge the gap" is a very common expression in the English language, as the article points out. I especially like the last sentence in the first paragraph, which refers to bridging political gaps, both inter- and intra-party.

Our system of government, with its separation of powers and checks-and-balances, is based upon compromise - or "bridging the gap." The use of committees, with members of both parties as members, in both Congress and the Senate is another manifestation of this. The idea is to discuss and debate the issues and come to a reasonable, rational conclusion. Not everybody will get 100 percent of what they want - that's what compromise is all about. There are definitely certain elements out there that need to understand this - political gridlock solves nothing. Learn to compromise, learn to "bridge the gap," and we'll all be better off.

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    • The phrase "bridge the gap" is common in casual conversations.
      By: Francesco83
      The phrase "bridge the gap" is common in casual conversations.