\ ˈgasp How to pronounce gasp (audio) \
gasped; gasping; gasps

Definition of gasp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

: to utter in a gasping manner


plural gasps

Definition of gasp (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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Synonyms for gasp

Synonyms: Verb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Traditionalists might gasp at the idea of painting your floors, saying it’s sacrilege to cover the wood. Washington Post, 27 Sep. 2021 Airlines will gasp until Thanksgiving to see if the boom in summer leisure travel continues with families wanting to be together for that holiday. Ben Baldanza, Forbes, 6 Sep. 2021 He and other rehabbers are overloaded with waterfowl riddled with gapeworm, a parasite that lives and breeds in a bird’s trachea and causes it to gasp or shake its head. New York Times, 20 July 2021 Those who gasp in dismay prove themselves to be the snobs. New York Times, 9 Apr. 2021 There will be no ballroom packed with mega-stars to laugh or gasp when the hosts launch their best lines. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, 25 Feb. 2021 Kerri and her husband gasp together, and Ted covers his mouth with the back of his hand. Sofie Birkin, Marie Claire, 9 Feb. 2021 When encountering this work, many will gasp and move on. Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2020 We gasp and type gibberish in our notes, and half-expect a chaplain to show up and marry them then and there. David Oliver, USA TODAY, 6 Nov. 2020

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


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


circa 1529, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gasp


Middle English; akin to Old Norse geispa to yawn

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Learn More About gasp

Time Traveler for gasp

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near gasp



gas packing

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Statistics for gasp

Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gasp.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for gasp



English Language Learners Definition of gasp

: to breathe in suddenly and loudly with your mouth open because of surprise, shock, or pain
: to breathe with difficulty : pant
: to say (something) with quick, difficult breaths


\ ˈgasp How to pronounce gasp (audio) \
gasped; gasping

Kids Definition of gasp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to breathe in suddenly and loudly with the mouth open because of surprise, shock, or pain I could see … spectators gasping at moves no human had ever made before.— Jerry Spinelli, Crash
2 : to breathe with difficulty : pant The runners were gasping after the race.
3 : to utter with quick difficult breaths "I think we're lost," she gasped.



Kids Definition of gasp (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of breathing in suddenly or with difficulty I heard the crowd's loud gasp.
2 : something gasped He let out a gasp of surprise.

More from Merriam-Webster on gasp

Nglish: Translation of gasp for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gasp for Arabic Speakers


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