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 claustrophobia (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 Empties were ripping through the museum and his dad hid him inside a small crate, an experience that resulted in his current claustrophobia. Nick Romano,, "The Walking Dead: World Beyond recap: A Huck Finn adventure," 2 Nov. 2020 The psychological insights are every bit as sharp as those in the first volume, however, and the claustrophobia is every bit as effective. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, "Before history devolves into mythology: 2020’s best books on World War II," 2 Dec. 2020 Saulnier plays up the claustrophobia of the location as the savage skinheads descend on his protagonists, building tension and suspense sequences with skill and ingenuity. Jason Bailey, New York Times, "Stream These 15 Titles Before They Leave Netflix in November," 11 Nov. 2020 Based on the real Franklin expedition, the claustrophobia is palpable. Lavie Tidhar, Washington Post, "Beyond ‘The Shining’: Let’s talk about our favorite scary stories that take us inside unusual hauntings," 19 Oct. 2020 What impressed the director most, however, was Moretz’s dedication to the work, which involved her dealing with constant claustrophobia from shooting in the minuscule Sperry turret for many, many hours a day. Anne Cohen,, "Roseanne Liang’s Shadow In The Cloud Casts Chloë Grace Moretz In Her Most Unexpected Role Yet," 15 Sep. 2020 The claustrophobia is matched only by the dizzying sight of the smoke itself. James Ross Gardner, The New Yorker, "In a Cloud of Wildfire Smoke, the Pacific Northwest Breathes Uneasily," 14 Sep. 2020 The claustrophobia of this—of fire turning the entire West Coast dim with smoke, on top of the fear, isolation, and long-term lockdown imposed by the pandemic—is almost too much to bear. Emma Marris, The Atlantic, "The West Has Never Felt So Small," 10 Sep. 2020 The vast majority of the story takes place onboard the USS Keeling (call sign Greyhound), with all the claustrophobia and vastness that implies: cramped, panicky quarters; grey and roiling seas. Leah Greenblatt,, "Tom Hanks is the captain now in tense WWII naval drama Greyhound: Review," 6 July 2020

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 at sense 1

History and Etymology for claustrophobia

New Latin, from Latin claustrum + New Latin -phobia

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Time Traveler for claustrophobia

Time Traveler

The first known use of claustrophobia was in 1879

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Statistics for claustrophobia

Last Updated

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Claustrophobia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for claustrophobia


How to pronounce claustrophobia (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on claustrophobia

Nglish: Translation of claustrophobia for Spanish Speakers

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