1 of 3


bot·​tle·​neck ˈbä-tᵊl-ˌnek How to pronounce bottleneck (audio)
: narrow
bottleneck harbors


2 of 3


plural bottlenecks
: a narrow route
: a point of traffic congestion
: someone or something that slows or halts free movement and progress
working to streamline production and eliminate bottlenecks
: impasse
They reached a bottleneck in the negotiations.
: a dramatic reduction in the size of a population (as of a species) that results in a decrease in genetic variation
or bottleneck guitar : 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


3 of 3


bottlenecked; bottlenecking; bottlenecks

transitive verb

: to slow or halt by causing a bottleneck

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
The impact of the pre-bottleneck period is attenuated, because much of the population was simply not genetically sampled. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 20 May 2013 To compare pre- and post-bottleneck genetic diversity, the researchers sequenced DNA from 1,000-year-old penguin bones on the island. Sarah Zhang, Discover Magazine, 22 Feb. 2012
But now, taking on water in the bottleneck of the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, its two dozen crew issued an urgent call for help and prepared to abandon ship. Matt Burgess, WIRED, 1 Apr. 2024 Data movement is often a performance-impacting bottleneck when scaling models across nodes. Steve McDowell, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 Its indefinite closure could create bottlenecks in the supply chain, resulting in delays and higher costs for certain goods on the Eastern Seaboard. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 28 Mar. 2024 Meanwhile, the Japanese production committee system has long been a bottleneck for Chinese and Korean media companies. Mark Schilling, Variety, 16 Mar. 2024 Here, jokes about the city’s storied landmarks and its bureaucratic bottlenecks help ground some of the sitcom’s headier themes. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, 11 Mar. 2024 Proponents say widening will prevent congestion, truck bottleneck Commercial truck traffic is a key concern of the WisDOT and other proponents of the widening project. Journal Sentinel, 8 Mar. 2024 Construction has begun on a major new four-lane Lake Norman road, first proposed decades ago for drivers to escape irritating bottlenecks when traveling east-west across Mooresville. Joe Marusak, Charlotte Observer, 28 Feb. 2024 Supply-chain bottlenecks and a steep increase in international demand — caused in part by the wars in Ukraine and Gaza — have exhausted supplies of gunpowder and rocket propellants. David L. Stern, Washington Post, 20 Mar. 2024
Michael O’Leary, who has helmed the European low-cost airline for three decades, said in Poland that Boeing, first and foremost, needs to resolve the issues that have bottlenecked the expansion of Ryanair’s services, Reuters reports. Rocio Fabbro, Quartz, 28 Mar. 2024 New GPUs had to fit on modules that were the same physical size as older ones, that could be cooled using the same heatsink and fan as the old one, and that wouldn't be bottlenecked by whatever PCI Express version the CPU was using. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 23 Mar. 2023 Apprenticeship training hold a great deal of promise, but its expansion is bottlenecked due to a lack of funding, awareness, and availability. Shalin Jyotishi, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 Underground areas give you fewer cover spots, more opportunities for bottlenecking enemies, and a chance to find out that certain mercs are claustrophobic. Kevin Purdy, Ars Technica, 20 July 2023 The year is 1957, and this the first time in the film that the swarm of Ferraris, Maseratis and Alfa Romeos has been bottlenecked into a city. Jada Yuan, Washington Post, 29 Dec. 2023 Via the use of generative AI, the public at large can finally get ready access to mental health advisement at a low cost, whenever needed or desired, and no longer be bottlenecked by having to access human therapists that are sparsely available or pricey to utilize. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 11 Dec. 2023 If supplies are bottlenecked long enough, the energy transition could be delayed. Jim Krane, Fortune, 12 Oct. 2023 Cohen watched as four pickup trucks filled with armed militants and gunmen on motorcycles encircled the road leading out of the event venue, which was bottlenecked with cars attempting to flee the area. Ruth Margalit, The New Yorker, 8 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bottleneck.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1854, in the meaning defined above


1850, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1919, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bottleneck was in 1850

Dictionary Entries Near bottleneck

Cite this Entry

“Bottleneck.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a narrow passageway
: someone or something that holds up progress
a traffic bottleneck

More from Merriam-Webster on bottleneck

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!