claus·​tro·​pho·​bia | \ ˌklȯ-strə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce claustrophobia (audio) \

Definition of claustrophobia

1 : abnormal dread of being in closed or narrow spaces
2 : a feeling of discomfort or discontent caused by being in a limiting or restrictive situation or environment While recovering in the hospital, she recognizes the claustrophobia of her working-class life, shared with a suffocatingly affectionate mother and a dud of a dad.— Barbara Tritel

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Other Words from claustrophobia

claustrophobe \ ˈklȯ-​strə-​ˌfōb How to pronounce claustrophobe (audio) \ noun

Examples of claustrophobia in a Sentence

She doesn't go in elevators because of her claustrophobia. the claustrophobia of small-town life

Recent Examples on the Web

As many as 5 percent of Americans may suffer from claustrophobia in some form, according to, and up to 13 percent of patients who received an MRI reported having a panic attack. Eric Pianin, Washington Post, "Claustrophobia can turn MRI into frightening experience," 11 Mar. 2018 The two windows at each row, and capacious overhead bins, will also combat claustrophobia. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "5 New Planes That Will Change the Way You Travel," 4 Sep. 2018 The claustrophobia was awful for the diggers working 9 feet below ground, in an oval 18 inches wide and 14 inches high. Daniel Ford, WSJ, "‘The Escape Artists’ Review: Keep Calm and Keep Shoveling," 27 Sep. 2018 Much of Laura Poitras’s Academy Award–winning film unfolds in a small, claustrophobia-inducing hotel room in Hong Kong. Vogue, "These Are the 66 Best Documentaries of All Time," 8 Aug. 2018 With its narrow passageways and suffocating sense of claustrophobia, the comparison is inevitable. Dylan Scott, Vox, "13 found-footage horror movies actually worth watching this Halloween," 19 Oct. 2018 Viewers may well experience a sense of claustrophobia themselves while watching Chris Crow's psychological thriller about two men descending into madness while manning a remote lighthouse. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Lighthouse': Film Review," 4 July 2018 Airway pressure masks, the most common remedy, have improved in design, getting smaller and quieter, but patients still complain about sore nostrils, dry mouths and claustrophobia. Washington Post, "New ways to conquer sleep apnea compete for place in bedroom," 12 July 2018 The insides are drum-shaped, painted white as if that might relieve the claustrophobia, and fitted with petal-like seats. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Gateway to what?," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'claustrophobia.' 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 claustrophobia

1879, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for claustrophobia

New Latin, from Latin claustrum + New Latin -phobia

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Statistics for claustrophobia

Last Updated

11 May 2019

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Time Traveler for claustrophobia

The first known use of claustrophobia was in 1879

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English Language Learners Definition of claustrophobia

: a fear of being in closed or small spaces
: an unhappy or uncomfortable feeling caused by being in a situation that limits or restricts you


claus·​tro·​pho·​bia | \ ˌklȯ-strə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce claustrophobia (audio) \

Medical Definition of claustrophobia

: abnormal dread of being in closed or narrow spaces

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Spanish Central: Translation of claustrophobia

Nglish: Translation of claustrophobia for Spanish Speakers

Comments on claustrophobia

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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