\ ˈgag How to pronounce gag (audio) \
gagged; gagging

Definition of gag

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to restrict use of the mouth of by inserting something into it to prevent speech or outcry
b : to prevent from exercising freedom of speech or expression trying to gag the press legally gagged from discussing the case
c : to pry or hold open with a gag
2 : to provide or write quips or pranks for gag a show
3 : to choke or cause to retch

intransitive verb

1a : choke also : to suffer a throat spasm that makes swallowing or breathing difficult
b : retch
2 : to be unable to endure something : balk The boys gagged at all the kissing and goo-goo eyes.
3 : to make quips



Definition of gag (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something thrust into the mouth to keep it open or to prevent speech or outcry
2 : an official check or restraint on debate or free speech a gag rule
3 : a laugh-provoking remark or act
4 : prank, trick

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Other Words from gag


gagger noun

Synonyms for gag

Synonyms: Verb

barf, heave, hurl, puke, retch, spew, spit up, throw up, upchuck, vomit

Synonyms: Noun

boff (or boffo), boffola, crack, drollery, funny, giggle [chiefly British], jape, jest, joke, josh, laugh, nifty, one-liner, pleasantry, quip, rib, sally, waggery, wisecrack, witticism, yuk (or yuck) [slang]

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Examples of gag in a Sentence


The government is trying to gag the press. the terrible smell of rotting fish made me gag


The movie relies on simpleminded gags for laughs. They hid his clothes as a gag. They tied up the hostages and put gags in their mouths. The government is trying to put a gag on the press.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His detractors accuse him of progressively running down Ghana’s economic gains at independence, gagging the press, curtailing the freedom of speech and being an authoritarian. Akwasi Kwarteng Amoako-gyampah, Quartz Africa, "The “tragic error” that led to Kwame Nkrumah becoming one of Africa’s great independence leaders," 7 Aug. 2019 Running down the middle of some street in Lynn, crying, laughing, choking, gagging. Ted Gartland,, "Photographer rolls through the decades with the Stones," 3 July 2019 And don’t forget about the ominous ending: that bound and gagged bloody guy out wandering in the desert? Sydney Bucksbaum,, "Hulu's Veronica Mars revival binge recap for every episode," 19 July 2019 The notion of a Zappa presidency might seem unbelievable enough to make conservatives want to gag — with or without as spoon. San Diego Union-Tribune, "That time Frank Zappa considered running for president with H. Ross Perot as his veep," 9 July 2019 So refused to do so and was gagged, according to the report. Aritz Parra, The Seattle Times, "Spain: FBI offered data stolen in North Korean Embassy raid," 27 Mar. 2019 The sheriff kept most details of the pre-attack prowlings and the nature of the rapes themselves secret _ pulling news editors and station managers into a private meeting to gag media coverage. Tribune News Service,, "The Man in the Window: The attacker lingered in houses as he raped, tortured women (Part Three)," 23 June 2019 The Astros have now suffered six straight, running the gamut in ways to gag winnable games. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros fall to Yankees for 6th straight loss," 21 June 2019 Because of that, the actors had to kiss in front of a green screen—which is when Harington decided to joke around by gagging and groaning after making out with Clarke. Glamour, "Watch Kit Harington Gag After Kissing Emilia Clarke on the Game of Thrones Set," 16 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The gag ends with a punch line about possibly changing a new song’s title so it won’t be misunderstood. Joseph Peschel | For The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Chuck Klosterman’s new short story collection ranges from topical tidbits to questionable gimmicks," 28 July 2019 Yes, those who love comics will thrill to the throwaway gags. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "Amazon's The Boys Tests the Limits of Superhero Fatigue," 26 July 2019 On the latter score, being sentient in 1969 isn't mandatory, but having some familiarity with cultural artifacts of the time, like Dean Martin's Matt Helm movies, surely helps in fully appreciating the gags. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood' is Quentin Tarantino's valentine to the era," 25 July 2019 The gag is sure to be of amusement to Reds supporters, who like to revel in the fact that their rivals have not won a major trophy since 1995., "Jamie Carragher Takes to Instagram to Mock Rivals Everton's Trophy Prospects," 16 July 2019 Obviously, all that never happened, but that was the running gag when Glover, who voices Simba in the film, showed up to promote The Lion King, which held its premiere in Los Angeles nearby Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show studio. Nick Romano,, "Donald Glover casually roars onto Jimmy Kimmel Live in The Lion King suit," 10 July 2019 Only a handful of Pixar titles during this period used the gag — including 1999’s Toy Story 2, whose blooper reel has been noticeably edited in the film’s latest digital and Blu-Ray release. Allegra Frank, Vox, "Pixar has removed a Hollywood “casting couch” joke from Toy Story 2," 3 July 2019 The gags about not understanding Europeans, converting euros into dollars, and bad women drivers are al incredibly stale in 2019. Anne Cohen,, "The True Crime In Netflix's Murder Mystery Is How Boring It Is," 15 June 2019 If Ruth Handler is Barbie’s mother, then Bild Lilli — the German doll intended as a risqué gag gift for men — is her deceased sister, whose spirit has haunted Barbie’s legacy for the better part of the past century. Brennan Kilbane, Allure, "Barbie's 60th Birthday Wish Was to Be More Inclusive. Now What?," 2 May 2019

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


1509, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gag


Middle English gaggen "to strangle," of imitative origin


derivative of gag entry 1

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Statistics for gag

Last Updated

22 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gag

The first known use of gag was in 1509

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More Definitions for gag



English Language Learners Definition of gag

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to put something (such as a piece of cloth) into or over a person's mouth in order to prevent that person from speaking, calling for help, etc.
: to prevent (someone) from speaking freely or expressing opinions
: to vomit or feel as if you are about to vomit : to feel as if what is in your stomach is going to come up into your mouth



English Language Learners Definition of gag (Entry 2 of 2)

: something said or done to make people laugh
chiefly US : something done as a playful trick
: something (such as a piece of cloth) that is put into or over someone's mouth in order to prevent speech


\ ˈgag How to pronounce gag (audio) \
gagged; gagging

Kids Definition of gag

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to stop from speaking or crying out by or as if by covering or blocking the mouth
2 : to vomit or feel like vomiting The horrible smell almost made me gag.
3 : choke sense 2 He gagged on his hot dog.



Kids Definition of gag (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something covering or blocking the mouth especially to prevent speaking or crying out
2 : something said or done to make other people laugh

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More from Merriam-Webster on gag

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gag

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gag

Spanish Central: Translation of gag

Nglish: Translation of gag for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gag for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gag

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


a haphazard or makeshift solution

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