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Gulley vs. Gully — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on February 25, 2024
Gully refers to a narrow channel formed by rainwater, while gulley is an alternate spelling less commonly used but denotes the same feature.
Gulley vs. Gully — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Gulley and Gully


Key Differences

Gully and gulley both describe erosional landforms, essentially narrow channels carved into the earth by fast-flowing water, often found on hillsides or as part of a drainage system. The primary difference lies in the spelling, with "gully" being the more widely accepted and used term.
The term "gully" is frequently encountered in geographical, environmental, and sometimes urban contexts, highlighting features that can significantly impact soil erosion, water runoff, and landscape shaping. "Gulley," while recognized, appears less frequently in literature and discussions, serving as an alternative spelling that reflects the same concept.
The preference for "gully" over "gulley" can be attributed to standardization within scientific and educational materials. Geographers, environmental scientists, and related professionals predominantly use "gully" when referring to these features in academic papers, reports, and educational texts.
There is no difference in the nature, formation, despite spelling variation, or implications of a "gully" vs. a "gulley." Both terms point to the power of water in shaping landscapes, contributing to soil loss, and affecting agricultural and urban areas through the process of erosion.

Comparison Chart


More commonly used
Less commonly used


A narrow channel formed by water erosion
Same as gully, alternate spelling

Usage Context

Geographical, environmental
Same, but less frequent


Widely accepted in scientific and educational materials
Recognized but less standardized


Highlights issues of erosion, water runoff
Same impact and implications as gully

Compare with Definitions


Same as gully, less common.
Planting vegetation can stabilize a gulley's sides.


Natural drainage path.
The gully leads the stream water into the river.


Alternate spelling for gully.
The gulley was widened by the storm's runoff.


Channel for water runoff.
A gully was formed beside the road to direct rainwater.


Indicator of water flow.
Gulleys on the hillside indicate heavy water flow during rains.


Result of soil erosion.
Soil conservation practices can prevent gully formation.


Erosion-formed channel.
A gulley in the backyard collects rainwater from the slope.


Erosional feature.
The heavy rain carved a deep gully in the hillside.


Water-induced landscape feature.
The newly formed gulley disrupts the field's usability.


Landscape shaping force.
Over time, gullies can significantly alter the landscape.


Alternative spelling of gully


A gully is a landform created by running water, eroding sharply into soil or other relatively erodable material, typically on a hillside. Gullies resemble large ditches or small valleys, but are metres to tens of metres in depth and width.


A channel in the side of a mountain, especially one forming a path for avalanches or rockfall.


A trench, ravine or narrow channel which was worn by water flow, especially on a hillside.


A channel or hollow worn in the earth by a current of water; a short deep portion of a torrent's bed when dry.

Common Curiosities

Is there a difference between a gully and a gulley?

No, the terms refer to the same feature, with "gully" being the preferred spelling.

What is a gully?

A gully is a narrow channel formed in the earth by water erosion.

Why are gullies important in geography?

Gullies play a significant role in soil erosion, water runoff management, and landscape formation.

How does a gully form?

A gully forms through the continuous erosion of soil by fast-flowing water, especially during heavy rains.

Can a gulley become a larger geological feature?

Yes, if erosion continues unchecked, a gulley can expand into a larger ravine or canyon.

Why might someone use "gulley" over "gully"?

Personal or regional preference might lead to using "gulley," though "gully" is more universally recognized.

Can gully erosion be prevented?

Yes, through soil conservation practices, vegetation planting, and creating barriers to slow water flow.

How do gullies affect agriculture?

Gullies can disrupt agricultural land by removing fertile soil and creating obstacles for farming equipment.

What role does vegetation play in preventing gully formation?

Vegetation helps anchor the soil, reducing runoff speed and volume, thereby preventing gully erosion.

Is "gulley" an incorrect term?

"Gulley" is not incorrect but is an alternative spelling less commonly used than "gully."

How do gullies differ from ditches?

Gullies are naturally formed by water erosion, while ditches are usually man-made for drainage.

What measures can be taken to stabilize a gully?

Planting vegetation, building check dams, and ensuring proper drainage can help stabilize a gully.

Are gullies only found in rural areas?

No, gullies can also form in urban areas where improper drainage can lead to erosion.

How can communities manage gully erosion?

Communities can manage gully erosion through collective efforts in land management, water diversion, and reforestation.

What is the impact of gullies on the environment?

Gullies contribute to soil loss, can alter habitats, and affect water quality through sedimentation.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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