\ ˈgag \
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

The images beaming out of the U.S.-Mexico border — migrants storming barricades, children gagging on tear gas — have intensified the debate regarding the Trump administration’s bare-knuckled approach to immigration. Kyle Swenson, The Seattle Times, "Ammon Bundy breaks with Trump on anti-migrant rhetoric: ‘It’s all fear-based’," 28 Nov. 2018 Jonathan Hatami told jurors that the defendant, 37, had enjoyed tormenting the boy, forcing Gabriel to eat his own vomit and sleep in a cabinet with a sock gagging his mouth. Marisa Gerber,, "'Horrendous, inhumane and nothing short of evil': Judge sentences mother to life in prison and her boyfriend to death in Gabriel Fernandez murder case," 7 June 2018 Video posted in January 2017 shows the four defendants — all African-American — cutting the white victim’s scalp with a knife, punching and kicking him and laughing as he was bound and gagged in an apartment on Chicago’s West Side. Megan Crepeau,, "Ringleader given 8 years in prison for beating mentally disabled teen in attack livestreamed on Facebook," 5 July 2018 Cooper and Hill taunted the teen with knives and sliced up his sweatshirt, hair and scalp while the teen was tied up and gagged, Lanier said. Megan Crepeau,, "Last of 4 defendants pleads guilty to beating teen with disability in livestreamed Facebook attack," 12 July 2018 The 75-year-old Smith was found bound, gagged and suffocated to death on her bed. Tim Prudente,, "Jury acquits Baltimore man in 1981 cold case killing of 75-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted," 20 June 2018 Prosecutors said he was repeatedly beaten, shot with a BB gun, forced to eat cat feces and slept while gagged and bound inside a small cabinet. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "California man gets death sentence in torture-killing of 8-year-old boy," 7 June 2018 At the end of a two-month investigation, the Sheriff’s Department and county Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that Zahau had bound, gagged and hanged herself in a suicide. Pauline Repard,, "Shacknai lawyer blasts verdict in Rebecca Zahau wrongful death trial," 5 Apr. 2018 Sure enough, Trinity was caught unawares, and audiences everywhere were gagged. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "10 of the Best Reads in 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Herstory," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Trumpy Bear is the perfect (gag) gift—right alongside clearance Ivanka Trump resale inventory and the quintessential MAGA hat. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "How Can the Trump-ified Teddy, Trumpy Bear, Be Real?," 12 Nov. 2018 The company will let players sample submarines for the first time as part of a temporary Halloween gag, where ships and subs take on spooky themes. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "World of Warships dives deep for new players, adding submarines to popular naval combat game," 18 Sep. 2018 That old Woody Allen gag that defines a broker as someone who invests your money until it’s gone is suddenly not so funny. Gregg Opelka, WSJ, "A Hedge-Fund Tragedy in One Act," 5 Dec. 2018 Yet the biggest showcase sequences are utter eye candy, and their visual gags stand on their own—or drive hilarious repartee. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Wreck-It Ralph 2 review: Everything we wish Ready Player One had been," 21 Nov. 2018 Amid this flurry of faux-feminist (fauxminist?) gags, Ocean’s 8 runs on two core questions: Will this gang of plucky gals make off with the loot? Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "In Ocean’s 8, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend," 12 June 2018 The songs are celebrated for their badness, and they are used as pretexts for corny gags. Christopher Arnott,, "'Disaster!' Skewers The 1970s At CT Rep," 11 June 2018 Living or dead, the gag implies, our pastimes are meaningless either way. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "Why zombies are so hilarious," 5 Dec. 2018 While many viewers may have changed the channel after the opening monologue, jabs at average Americans were far from over and the Jesus gag became a running theme throughout the evening. Brian Flood, Fox News, "Emmy Awards roasted for mocking Middle America, ratings hit all-time low," 18 Sep. 2018

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

12 Dec 2018

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

: 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 \
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

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