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 The red tape and bottlenecks surrounding large-scale infrastructure project can be overwhelming. Nicole Goodkind, Newsweek, "Trump Infrastructure Plan Includes Elon Musk-Style High-Speed Rail Tunnels And Eminent Domain," 5 Jan. 2018 The ambitious plan, which could top $10 billion, would open up the waterfronts of Hartford and East Hartford to public use and unsnarl a traffic bottleneck at the intersection of I-84 and I-91. Daniela Altimari,, "Larson still wants a $10 billion tunnel beneath Hartford, but needed transportation projects across Connecticut may require a different strategy," 13 Sep. 2019 First, the transformation will require the removal of booths, as well as evaluating how to create lanes that don’t end in a bottleneck, Goodwin said. Rick Hurd, The Mercury News, "Got FasTrak? Automated toll collecting coming to all Bay Area bridges," 5 Sep. 2019 The park itself was sizable, allowing attendees to sample from dozens of food and liquor vendors, a water refill station and other festival staples without getting stuck in the overcrowding bottleneck. Mosi Reeves, Billboard, "Porter Robinson's Second Sky Festival Reflected His Boundary-Pushing Taste and Personal Evolution: Recap," 17 June 2019 While Musk at the meeting denied any slackening of demand, Tesla lost $702 million in the first quarter (pdf) and saw a 41% drop in vehicle sales attributed to the phase-out of federal tax credits in the US and shipping bottlenecks overseas. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting ran on pure, high-octane optimism," 12 June 2019 Last year’s shadow banking crackdown has therefore created a lending bottleneck. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "China Risks Real Hard Landing This Time," 23 Jan. 2019 Those dangers prompted the National Park Service in 2010 to limit the number of hikers on the enormous rock to combat regular bottlenecks. Peter Fimrite,, "Woman falls 500 feet to her death from cables at Half Dome in Yosemite," 6 Sep. 2019 The region has so far spent about $767 million on double tracking the Coaster line to prevent bottlenecks. San Diego Union-Tribune, "SANDAG unveils spending blueprint for traffic-prone commuter corridors, vexing backers of freeway expansion," 6 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 The wreck occurred shortly before 2:30 p.m. as traffic bottlenecked in a work zone on I-70 in Kansas. Shane Sanderson Ellen Cagle And Ian Cummings, kansascity, "Highway Patrol: Truck driver in wreck that killed 5 was driving too fast, not paying attention," 14 July 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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Statistics for bottleneck

Time Traveler for bottleneck

The first known use of bottleneck was in 1806

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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

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