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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 The setting adds factors of claustrophobia and isolation to the suspense of the scenario. Paul Daugherty,, "Paul Daugherty: What's on your bucket list, Cincinnati sports fans?," 14 June 2018 And for those with claustrophobia or fear of being locked in, the rooms always have one unlocked door and are not cramped or small. Jerod Macdonald-evoy, azcentral, "Trying to beat the heat? Here are 5 fun, new ways to cool off in the East Valley," 2 June 2018 Set on a cramped train rattling across the subcontinent, Darjeeling juxtaposes the claustrophobia of travel against the backdrop of Rajasthan's vast open spaces. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 45 Best Travel Films of All Time," 11 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of claustrophobia

1879, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for claustrophobia

New Latin, from Latin claustrum + New Latin -phobia

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about claustrophobia

Share claustrophobia

Statistics for claustrophobia

Last Updated

2 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for claustrophobia

The first known use of claustrophobia was in 1879

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for claustrophobia



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

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 corrupt or become corrupted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!