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 That work will include new trails, sidewalks and intersection improvements to prevent bottlenecks. Ryan Gillespie,, "Osceola creates $200 million ‘Band-Aid’ to widen clogged roads," 22 Nov. 2019 For several months of construction, traffic was reduced to only one lane, leading to traffic backups and bottlenecks. Kimberly Fornek,, "Police tie Oak Street traffic increase to Route 83 construction, not wider bridge," 21 Nov. 2019 In a country without one or two obvious digital bottlenecks, authorities must coordinate with multiple telecoms, including ISPs and mobile data providers, to cut access. Wired, "How the Iranian Government Shut Off the Internet," 17 Nov. 2019 In October, the airline studied passenger behavior during boarding and deplaning on hundreds of flights in and out of Denver International Airport to see where and when bottlenecks occur. Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY, "Stairs, selfies and a little fresh air: The future of Southwest Airlines boarding?," 7 Nov. 2019 Predictably, the government has played up the jump in rankings as the result of the effort of a government committee created in 2016 to ease regulatory bottlenecks. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "It’s getting easier to do business in Africa’s largest economy—but possibly only on paper," 25 Oct. 2019 But the true musical star of the album is Harrison, who unveils a whole new instrumental persona based on the piquant, pining lyricism of his bottleneck-slide guitar. Jonathan Gould, The New Yorker, "When the Beatles Walked Offstage: Fifty Years of “Abbey Road”," 21 Oct. 2019 Starting this month, librarians said, there will be two, back-to-back story times in the mornings, to help alleviate the stroller bottleneck and waiting lists of children. Sharon Otterman, New York Times, "New Library Is a $41.5 Million Masterpiece. But About Those Stairs.," 5 Nov. 2019 The price slump, transport bottlenecks and pressure from activists have forced oil firms to cut costs and emissions. The Economist, "The environmentThe environment is Canada’s biggest wedge issue," 25 July 2019 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 10 December 2019.

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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).


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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