\ 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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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 According to a recent report by Goldman Sachs, the music industry -- which was gasping for breath 15 years ago -- is on track to reach $131 billion in the next decade. Brian Penick, Billboard, "Five Music Tech Investment Areas You Need to Know (Guest Column)," 5 Sep. 2019 That set the stage for Avon, with its offensive line and Perusek gasping just enough energy for their last stand. Matt Goul,, "No. 10 Avon pushes past No. 11 Avon Lake, 13-12, takes early SWC step," 30 Aug. 2019 Gear up for a bikini-clad, beachside, gasp-inducing season as the former contestants mingle at a luxurious Mexico resort. Ew Staff,, "What to Watch on Monday: The singles waste no time coupling up on Bachelor in Paradise premiere," 5 Aug. 2019 There was no moment that made people gasp or blow up on social media. James Pindell,, "Missed today’s Mueller hearings? Here’s a cheat sheet on what happened," 24 July 2019 Urbina is so successful at communicating the scale of the ocean, and the cruelty and neglect above and below its waters, that reading his book sometimes feels like gasping for a breath of air before slipping under the waves again. Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post, "How lawlessness and ignorance are harming our oceans," 12 Sep. 2019 Both defenses are going to be gasping for air by the end of the night. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "Texas Tech vs. Arizona football picks, predictions: Red Raiders, Wildcats set for shootout," 11 Sep. 2019 On Great Abaco Island, residents emerged to gasp at the incredible devastation as high winds remained but the rain had subsided. Patrick Oppmann, Madeline Holcombe And Jason Hanna, CNN, "The death toll in the Bahamas is likely to rise as Hurricane Dorian recovery begins, authorities say," 4 Sep. 2019 Alabama was left gasping for air on Wednesday after the loss of preseason All-American linebacker Dylan Moses for all of 2019, and the season begins on Saturday. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Alabama will begin the season making compromises," 28 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for gasp

Last Updated

23 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for gasp

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

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More Definitions for gasp


How to pronounce gasp (audio)

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
: 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on gasp

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gasp

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gasp

Spanish Central: Translation of gasp

Nglish: Translation of gasp for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gasp for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gasp

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

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