as·​pi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌa-spə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce aspiration (audio) \

Definition of aspiration

1a : a strong desire to achieve something high or great an aspiration to become famous usually plurala young man with political/literary aspirations
b : an object of such desire An acting career is her aspiration.
2 : a drawing of something in, out, up, or through by or as if by suction: such as
a : the act of breathing and especially of breathing in
b : the withdrawal (as by suction) of fluid or tissue from the body the aspiration of stomach fluids
c : the taking of foreign matter into the lungs with the respiratory current problems caused by the aspiration of fluids into the patient's lungs
3 linguistics
a : audible breath that accompanies or comprises a speech sound
b : the pronunciation or addition of an aspiration the aspiration of the letter "h" in "a house" also : the symbol of an aspiration

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Choose the Right Synonym for aspiration

ambition, aspiration, pretension mean strong desire for advancement. ambition applies to the desire for personal advancement or preferment and may suggest equally a praiseworthy or an inordinate desire. driven by ambition aspiration implies a striving after something higher than oneself. an aspiration to become president someday pretension suggests ardent desire for recognition of accomplishment often without actual possession of the necessary ability and therefore may imply presumption. has literary pretensions

Examples of aspiration in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And some decide, as Hallet did, that a childhood aspiration of flying to the moon just isn’t realistic, and pursue degrees in geology and law instead. Sarah Todd, Quartz, "Why regret hurts so much—and why it’s good for us," 6 Sep. 2020 This boundlessness was only an aspiration, of course, for the modern city enforces its own bounds, if only by default. Michael J. Lewis, National Review, "The Death of Public Beauty," 3 Sep. 2020 In 1776, this aspiration was applied to ennoble political separation from the government of Great Britain. Stephen B. Young, Star Tribune, "The 'ism' that founded America wasn't racism, but Calvinism," 21 Aug. 2020 Perfection and aspiration are, after all, two key components of the MAGA doctrine. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "At the 2020 Conventions, Political Fashion Was a Case of Reality vs. Fallacy," 28 Aug. 2020 At the root of their agenda, is the belief that America is driven by envy, not aspiration — that millions of Americans harbor ill-will toward their neighbors, instead of loving our neighbors as themselves. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Full text: Pence says "the choice in this election is whether America remains America" in RNC speech," 27 Aug. 2020 Her mom helped homeschool her and encouraged her aspiration to be a competitive ice skater, which was sidelined with an injury at 17. Thomas Heath, Washington Post, "Health Fresh Meals competes in growing meal delivery market," 22 Aug. 2020 Biden's acceptance speech culminates a 30-plus-year aspiration for the career politician. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden, in acceptance speech, pledges new era of 'light' over Trump failures," 20 Aug. 2020 There’s comfort in that aspiration, which lives on, undiminished, in the face of the pandemic. Childs Walker,, "Ravens embrace a dose of normalcy at first full practice of 2020: ‘It’s great to be out here’," 17 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aspiration.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aspiration

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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Time Traveler for aspiration

Time Traveler

The first known use of aspiration was in the 14th century

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Statistics for aspiration

Last Updated

13 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aspiration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for aspiration


as·​pi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌa-spə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce aspiration (audio) \

Kids Definition of aspiration

1 : a strong desire to achieve something She left home with aspirations for a better life.
2 : something that one wants very much to achieve Fame has always been his aspiration.


as·​pi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌas-pə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce aspiration (audio) \

Medical Definition of aspiration

: a drawing of something in, out, up, or through by or as if by suction: as
a : the act of breathing and especially of breathing in
b : the withdrawal of fluid or friable tissue from the body
c : the taking of foreign matter into the lungs with the respiratory current

Other Words from aspiration

aspirational \ -​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl How to pronounce aspirational (audio) \ adjective

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