\ 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 Patients generally have arrived at the hospital gasping for air and coughing, with a high fever, extreme fatigue and gastrointestinal problems. Erika Edwards, NBC News, "Vaping illness cases rise again, to 2,172, CDC says," 14 Nov. 2019 Eight games later with the Browns gasping for air at 2-6, Vegas won’t even take that bet. Joey Morona, cleveland, "Gambling site posts odds on Baker Mayfield’s mustache vs. Bills," 7 Nov. 2019 Teens love e-cigarettes Long before an 18-year-old in Wisconsin walked into her doctor’s office gasping for air in July, public health officials, parents, and pediatricians were panicking about the rate at which teens were taking up vaping. Jenni Avins, Quartz, "How to make sense of the vaping crisis," 9 Oct. 2019 The Dodgers, gasping for six innings opposite Strasburg, had reached their destination. Los Angeles Times, "Dodgers’ comeback falls short in NLDS Game 2 loss to Nationals," 4 Oct. 2019 On April 3, 2017 an attack on Khan Sheikhoun left residents gasping for breath and convulsing in the streets and overcrowded hospitals. Yuras Karmanau, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Former rebel stronghold in Syria begins to rebuild," 25 Sep. 2019 Many of the charges were aired before the public at a board meeting earlier this month, leaving some onlookers gasping and some parents thinking about leaving the district. James Pilcher,, "Mt. Healthy school board faces transparency suit, claim of wasted tax money as election nears," 1 Nov. 2019 The first among our group glanced at her phone to read a text, gasped and turned away. Roy S. Johnson |, al, "Johnson: Our hurt for Kamille 'Cupcake’ McKinney demands more from this Classic, from all of us," 23 Oct. 2019 The first boy then punches Diego, now on the ground, as students can be heard gasping and screaming. Author: Kim Bellware, Anchorage Daily News, "California teen dies after beating; classmates say he was the target of bullies," 26 Sep. 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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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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Statistics for gasp

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Gasp.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

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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 state or do over again or repeatedly

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