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 Error 0: More Data Than Oil: Bandwidth poised to become next bottleneck in the Permian Basin Depending on the location, an oil or natural gas well can produce as many as 10 barrels of wastewater for every barrel of crude oil. Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle, "Lubbock company rolls out mobile app to remotely control oilfield water systems," 6 Jan. 2020 When Jesus got to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, a bottleneck in southern Mexico where authorities have focused enforcement efforts, five agents from the Attorney General’s Office stopped the truck. Washington Post, "What crackdown? Migrant smuggling business adapts, thrives," 19 Dec. 2019 This has to be one of the biggest bottlenecks in the Bay Area. Gary Richards, The Mercury News, "No widening, but plenty of work coming on 238 and 580: Roadshow," 20 Sep. 2019 Then came the conversion of more city-center vehicle lanes to exclusive bus lanes, creating bottlenecks that may quicken commutes for a select few but will leave drivers even more gridlocked. Sara Almerri, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: End Denver’s unfair war on car commuters," 18 Nov. 2019 Some of the biggest investment gaps are at the regional and local level, where capacity bottlenecks are a serious issue. Washington Post, "Why Germany’s Economic Slump Fuels Calls for Spending," 14 Nov. 2019 And the five-story, vertically designed building only has one elevator, creating bottlenecks at times. Sharon Otterman, New York Times, "New Library Is a $41.5 Million Masterpiece. But About Those Stairs.," 5 Nov. 2019 The bottlenecks are many: Bed space is in such short supply that migrants are held in jails as far away as Santa Barbara and Arizona, defense attorneys say. Richard Marosi,, "The aggressive prosecution of border-crossers is straining the courts. Will 'zero tolerance' make it worse?," 11 May 2018 To kick off, member states this year will look at where the bottlenecks are and how to ease customs formalities. Fox News, "EU plans to improve military mobility among member states," 28 Mar. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Contributing to this efficiency was the fact that bottlenecked lines to board the escalator were roughly a third as long when standers didn’t have to wait for their turn on one half of the escalator. Eric Zorn,, "Column: Move over, scientists! Walk left, stand right rules on the escalator," 26 Sep. 2019 During the 2017 La Tuna Fire, the biggest in Los Angeles in half a century, a road diet on Foothill Boulevard the in Sunland-Tujunga neighborhood bottlenecked evacuations. Christopher D. Legras, WSJ, "Vision Zero, a ‘Road Diet’ Fad, Is Proving to Be Deadly," 18 Jan. 2019 Since the Coffee Lake chipset can’t support 12 lanes at Gen 3 speeds without bottlenecking, Asus takes eight lanes from the CPU’s direct connect PCIe and uses it for storage, too. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "No, really: Asus' crazy ROG Mothership is like a Surface Pro for gaming," 6 Jan. 2019 The reconstruction of the power grid — bottlenecked by bureaucracy, outdated laws, and potentially corruption — has been unbearably slow. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Puerto Rico’s blackout is now the second largest on record worldwide," 13 Apr. 2018 Traffic will often bottleneck in certain areas — through much of San Marcos in the afternoon and in Escondido and part of San Marcos in the mornings -- causing delays of 10 to 30 minutes. J. Harry Jones,, "Highway 78 traffic study asks drivers to slow down to decrease bottlenecks," 19 Mar. 2018 From long waits at Fairmont and the Beltway to bottleneck backups on SH 225, Pasadena residents collectively spend a lot of time in traffic each day. Jennifer Bolton, Houston Chronicle, "Tough traffic spots in Pasadena? Residents say this is where you'll find them.," 27 Feb. 2018 And then there was Act II, in which Elliott’s progress was bottlenecked by the Seattle defense, or maybe by his own coaching staff. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "Zeke gains 97 yards in return, but no touches in critical moment," 24 Dec. 2017 The dinner crowd shuttled into the venue and bottlenecked at the bar, appropriately. Tunde Wey, San Francisco Chronicle, "Black women are the future of the food industry," 15 Dec. 2017

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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Statistics for bottleneck

Cite this Entry

“Bottleneck.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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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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Comments on bottleneck

What made you want to look up bottleneck? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a feeling of well-being or elation

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