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 Still, Eubank does a moderately good job of building mild dread and stoking feelings of claustrophobia. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Kristen Stewart Floats Above the Deep-Sea Dumbness of Underwater," 9 Jan. 2020 To increase the sense of claustrophobia some jurors feel in what is supposed to be a stuffy jury room on a hot summer day, some of the audience will be seated on the stage with the actors. Kimberly Fornek,, "12 angry jurors make for one riveting drama at Nazareth Academy," 8 Oct. 2019 Harbeson conveys the sense of claustrophobia that can close in on teachers surrounded by uninhabited land on all sides, yet physically and socially contained within a small and foreign environment. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "In ‘Shadowed Times,’ stories of an earlier — but not simpler — time," 9 Nov. 2019 Other sets induce claustrophobia, vertigo or simple revulsion. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Anatomy of a Fright-Filled Horror House," 12 Oct. 2019 In another poet of Howe’s background—Robert Lowell comes to mind—this aristocratic, late-Victorian milieu might have provoked claustrophobia, yet an aura of wonder pervades Howe’s writing. Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker, "Fanny Howe Makes Sense of Beginnings and Endings," 30 Sep. 2019 The final week of the regular season is here, but aside from the claustrophobia of the AL wild-card race and the goofy bumper cars-on-speed jockeying for the NL wild cards, there isn’t much drama left in the pennant chases. Jon Tayler,, "Baseball Should Be Fun. Let's Hope It Stays That Way," 24 Sep. 2019 She was buried alive with her dead mother, giving her a lifelong claustrophobia that became a recurring theme over decades of comics. Oliver Staley, Quartz, "Storm is comics’ overlooked groundbreaking superhero," 11 Sep. 2019 The claustrophobia of interwar England is further suggested, in the Griffin production, by narrowing the action to one room. Jesse Green, New York Times, "In Chicago’s Vibrant Theater Scene, Two Tales of One City," 7 June 2019

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

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Claustrophobia.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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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

Spanish Central: Translation of claustrophobia

Nglish: Translation of claustrophobia for Spanish Speakers

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