bot·​tle·​neck | \ ˈbä-tᵊl-ˌnek How to pronounce bottleneck (audio) \

Definition of bottleneck

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: narrow bottleneck harbors



Definition of bottleneck (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a narrow route
b : a point of traffic congestion
2a : someone or something that retards or halts free movement and progress
c : a dramatic reduction in the size of a population (as of a species) that results in a decrease in genetic variation
3 : a style of guitar playing in which glissando effects are produced by sliding an object (such as a knife blade or the neck of a bottle) along the strings

called also bottleneck guitar


bottlenecked; bottlenecking; bottlenecks

Definition of bottleneck (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to slow or halt by causing a bottleneck

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Synonyms for bottleneck

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of bottleneck in a Sentence

Noun Bridge construction has created a bottleneck on the southern part of Main Street. All decisions must be approved by the committee, and this is where the company runs into bottlenecks.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If production and shipping could be instantly ramped up, the bottleneck would be finding places for all those doses to be kept until use. Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times, "Why isn’t more COVID-19 vaccine available immediately?," 28 Dec. 2020 Traditional dry-erase boards are limiting and can create a bottleneck to creativity. Karl Sun, Fortune, "Want to innovate while working remotely? Rethink the way you brainstorm," 22 Dec. 2020 The Industrial Canal’s narrow lock became a bottleneck for barge traffic. Richard Campanella,, "acquisition of 1,100 acres," 1 Jan. 2021 Hospitals used extra space in emergency departments and operating rooms not licensed for bedsto accommodate patients, but Clark said the major bottleneck is finding enough doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists to care for them. Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY, "'A very, very dark place': Hospitals brace for crisis-care mode with too many patients, not enough staff," 6 Dec. 2020 The pandemic is once again laying bare how fragile global supply chains are, and how one unexpected bottleneck can affect the integrity of the entire system. Allison Morrow, CNN, "Somebody finally told Wall Street the world is on fire," 11 June 2020 The junction, formerly known as the Circle Interchange, has been rated as the biggest bottleneck for truck drivers in the nation by the Federal Highway Administration. Robert Channick,, "Final four ramps to open as Jane Byrne Interchange construction shifts to mainline Kennedy and Dan Ryan," 11 Dec. 2020 The graphite anode is a big bottleneck to safe fast charging, and the solid electrolyte layer appears to prevent dendrite formation well enough to push the charging rate pretty far. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Company claims solid-state lithium-metal battery breakthrough," 9 Dec. 2020 Starting in April 2021, the U.K.’s Digital Markets Unit will have the power to enforce a code of conduct for companies that act as a gateway or a bottleneck for access to platforms. Jason Furman, WSJ, "Tech Giants and Social Media Need Smart Regulation," 9 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The big takeaway here is that Optane's extremely low latency allows acceleration of AI pipelines—which frequently bottleneck on storage—by offering very rapid access to models too large to keep entirely in RAM. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Intel’s 3rd-generation Xeon Scalable CPUs offer 16-bit FPU processing," 18 June 2020 According to Lane Farguson, manager of communications at the Halifax Port Authority, bottlenecking at the port could cause shortages of goods in central Canada and the U.S. Midwest. Audrey Carleton, Fortune, "Canadian rail blockades could have a lasting effect on U.S.-Canada trade, setting the stage for even greater fallout from coronavirus," 1 Apr. 2020 Some updates to Apple's Mac product lineup have often been bottlenecked on waiting for updates or overcoming barriers in Intel's roadmap, which does not always suit Apple's priorities and which has been subject to disruption in the past. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Report: Apple will begin selling Macs with its own processors in 2021," 23 Apr. 2020 This becomes increasingly important in large datacenter environments, which can frequently bottleneck on data ingest as much or more than on raw CPU firepower. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "A detailed look at AMD’s new Epyc “Rome” 7nm server CPUs," 9 Aug. 2019 This 1892 creation is one of the great, great, great grandpas of bottlenecked, centerfire rifle cartridges. Ron Spomer, Outdoor Life, "The 7mm Showdown: 7x57 vs. 7mm-08 Rem. vs. .284 Win.," 20 Mar. 2020 That’s expected, as most triple-A games are heavily bottlenecked by the graphics card rather than the processor. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "AMD's new Ryzen 9 laptop CPUs aim to topple Intel's most powerful Core i9 chips," 16 Mar. 2020 Now, more than one hundred and twelve thousand asylum-seekers are bottlenecked in Greece, more than one third of their number on the islands. Patrick Strickland, The New York Review of Books, "After the EU Turned Greece into a Refugee Warehouse, a Backlash," 4 Mar. 2020 North Carolina Republicans acted similarly in the wake of Charleston’s Emanuel AME massacre, rushing to pass a bill that bottlenecked the removal process for Confederate statues and effectively criminalized their detractors. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "There’s Nothing More American Than Native Mascots," 29 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bottleneck.' 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 bottleneck


1854, in the meaning defined above


1806, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1919, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for bottleneck

Time Traveler

The first known use of bottleneck was in 1806

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Cite this Entry

“Bottleneck.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for bottleneck



English Language Learners Definition of bottleneck

: a section of road or highway where the traffic moves very slowly
: something that slows down a process


bot·​tle·​neck | \ ˈbä-tᵊl-ˌnek How to pronounce bottleneck (audio) \

Kids Definition of bottleneck

: a place or condition where improvement or movement is held up That intersection is a traffic bottleneck.

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