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gasped; gasping; gasps

intransitive verb

: to catch the breath convulsively and audibly (as with shock)
: to breathe laboriously

transitive verb

: to utter in a gasping manner


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plural gasps
: an act of gasping : a sudden loud intake of breath with one's mouth because of surprise, shock, pain, etc.
He let out an audible gasp at the sight of the snake.
a gasp of surprise
His eyes looked wild and strange from the fever; he trembled continuously, and each breath he took sounded like a gasp for life.Robert C. O'Brien
In the next hour Lemieux drew gasps from the crowd half a dozen more times …E. M. Swift

Examples of gasp in a Sentence

Verb Mom gasped in surprise at the sight of my sister's new haircut. He gasped as he stepped into the icy water. a dying man gasping for breath She was gasping for air.
Recent Examples on the Web
Sher Ali can be heard moaning and gasping for breath. Harriet Ramos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 23 May 2024 The man choked and gasped inside the car, according to the indictment, and kicked the door to get officers’ attention. Cassidy Jensen, Baltimore Sun, 20 Feb. 2024
Sequel, prequel, reboot or (gasp) original concept, not every film should be forced to make half a billion dollars, or even half its total budget, on opening weekend to be considered a success. Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times, 28 May 2024 In a last gasp in the ninth inning against Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase, the Angels received a leadoff single from Logan O’Hoppe, but Jo Adell struck out, Mickey Moniak flied out and Zach Neto struck out to end the game. Doug Padilla, Orange County Register, 26 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for gasp 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gasp.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English; akin to Old Norse geispa to yawn

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


circa 1529, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gasp was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near gasp

Cite this Entry

“Gasp.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to draw in a breath sharply (as with shock)
: to breathe with difficulty : pant
: to utter with quick difficult breaths
gasp noun

More from Merriam-Webster on gasp

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