\ 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 When encountering this work, many will gasp and move on. Washington Post, "The Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden’s two newest works stir up dark associations," 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, "'The Bachelorette' recap: Mind-blowing proposal and a long-anticipated debut shock Bachelor Nation," 6 Nov. 2020 Teresa Sievers' family audibly gasp at the verdict. Erin Moriarty, CBS News, "Did a Florida man hire a look-alike to kill his wife?," 22 Aug. 2020 But these dramatic bulletins got less attention than the gasping tennis players at the Australian Open. Time, "Most Australians Don't Spend a Lot of Time Thinking About the Bush. The Wildfires Remind Us What We Could Lose," 23 Jan. 2020 The sounds of gasping blowhole spouts mixed in with their normal chatter, which developed a kind of conversational rhythm as time went on. Hillary Richard, New York Times, "Doing the Bump With the Belugas," 11 May 2020 Peyton Manning is a lowly minus-9.1 but — gasp — Tom Brady is minus-7.2. Nat Newell, Indianapolis Star, "Is Colts quarterback Philip Rivers a Hall of Famer?," 7 May 2020 And this inflammation prevents the lungs from being able to oxygenate the blood and remove carbon dioxide, which leads the patient to gasp for air and suffer more serious illness. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "How to improve your respiratory health in case you get Covid-19," 6 May 2020 In that hospital, and then at a respiratory facility to which he was transferred, the man coughed, gasped, spewed, and sputtered during his intubation, infecting dozens of health-care workers. David Quammen, The New Yorker, "Why Weren’t We Ready for the Coronavirus?," 4 May 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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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

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gasp.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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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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