\ 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

blow, heave, hyperventilate, pant, puff, wheeze

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Examples of gasp in a Sentence


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

Other candidates gasped at her words, as heard in a recording posted on the website of radio station WPHM. Mallory Simon, CNN, "She wanted to keep a Michigan city white. Now she's dropped her bid for office," 26 Aug. 2019 Imagery in the video includes protestors being subdued by police in Turkey, Palestinians being fired upon and asylum-seekers gasping for breath amid clouds of gas at the U.S. border. Steven Litt,, "2019 Whitney Biennial filled with anxiety-ridden artworks that inspire empathy, indict the powerful," 18 Aug. 2019 The Detroit Tigers, gasping for their last breaths of perennial contention, are 6 ½ games back. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Kansas City Royals are ahead of Detroit Tigers in rebuild phase, too," 11 Aug. 2019 The crowd gasped when a huge wave broke in the end. Doug Duran, The Mercury News, "Photos: Paddleboard racing debuts at Pan American Games," 2 Aug. 2019 Chinese officials gasped when Mr Trump threatened to slap extra tariffs on China if Mr Xi did not agree to meet him on the G20’s sidelines. The Economist, "A fly-on-the-wall account of what China tells American bigwigs," 22 June 2019 Yet even among countries gasping for breath, India still stands out, with many of most polluted cities in the world. Umair Irfan, Vox, "New Delhi is once again the most polluted city on Earth," 8 Nov. 2018 That fed credit bubbles that distorted national economies, then left whole countries gasping for liquidity when investors lost confidence and fled. Marcus Walker, WSJ, "As Euro Crisis Ends, Italy Stokes Fear of a Revival," 19 Aug. 2018 Save’s family, sitting in San Diego Superior Court, gasped when the judge agreed to the high bail. Pauline Repard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Prosecutor: Poway man fired gun to scare brother; killed next door tenant," 21 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

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gasp

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

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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
: 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gasp

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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