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
b : impasse
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 The biggest bottleneck in producing mRNA vaccines, manufacturing experts say, is the formulation process: Putting the synthesized mRNA in a fatty envelope to reach its cellular destinations. Dylan Moriarty, WSJ, "mRNA Covid-19 Vaccines Are Fast to Make, but Hard to Scale," 3 Mar. 2021 Right now, the bottleneck is not the process itself, but the number of doses that the state is receiving from the federal government. Emily Brindley,, "Connecticut’s new COVID-19 vaccine plan is meant to prioritize speed and equity. But experts are divided on whether the new strategy will accomplish those goals," 25 Feb. 2021 Bosnia has become a bottleneck for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Western Europe. NBC News, "Hundreds of migrants freezing in heavy snow in Bosnia camp," 27 Dec. 2020 Those 26 lanes at the Katy Freeway at Beltway 8 were ranked the second-worst bottleneck in the country in 2004. Abigail Rosenthal, Chron, "It's not just you: The Katy Freeway is scientifically awful," 12 Feb. 2021 However, donations can't fix the vaccine-production bottleneck that is hampering rollouts around the world—and effectively pushing poorer countries to the back of the queue. David Meyer, Fortune, "How to stop vaccine nationalism from prolonging the pandemic," 7 Feb. 2021 Manning said the Biden administration would give Pfizer a priority rating to secure critical equipment, including filling pumps, removing a bottleneck on vaccine manufacturing. Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle, "U.S. sending over 200 active-duty troops to help staff Oakland Coliseum mass-vaccination site," 5 Feb. 2021 Zoning codes in cities like Seattle are still a bottleneck for speedy development, Blum says, and tax credits will never be enough to attract risk-averse real estate developers to build apartments for low-income tenants. Tim Gruver, Washington Examiner, "Landlords, tenants debate who will pay the price of Washington state's eviction moratorium," 25 Jan. 2021 But some prosecutors have expressed concerns that the Justice Department is creating a bottleneck by funneling prosecutions through Washington. New York Times, "Justice Dept. Pursues at Least 150 Suspects in Capitol Riot," 11 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Conversely, the destination disk and the interface might be newer and able to write data faster than the source sending it; that’s where data can bottleneck and potentially cause problems. Eric Alt, Popular Science, "The best external hard drives: Expand your file storage," 22 Jan. 2021 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

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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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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