hy·​per·​ven·​ti·​late | \ˌhī-pər-ˈven-tə-ˌlāt \
hyperventilated; hyperventilating; hyperventilates

Definition of hyperventilate 

intransitive verb

: to breathe rapidly and deeply : undergo hyperventilation

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Synonyms for hyperventilate


blow, gasp, heave, pant, puff, wheeze

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Did You Know?

Hyperventilating can be a response to fear and anxiety. A test pilot who panics and hyperventilates faces a dangerous situation. When the level of carbon dioxide in your blood goes down and the oxygen level goes up, blood vessels constrict because of the chemical changes and the body can't get enough oxygen (even though it's there in the blood), and the pilot can become lightheaded and may even faint. To guard against this, pilots are taught to control their breathing. On the ground, the usual remedy for hyperventilation is breathing into a paper bag, which raises the level of carbon dioxide and restores normal breathing.

Examples of hyperventilate in a Sentence

The boy panicked and began hyperventilating. he was so nervous he began hyperventilating, and the extra oxygen made him dizzy

Recent Examples on the Web

Among the impressive lineup that night was a Pulitzer Prize winner, a poet laureate, and some dude from Long Island trying not to hyperventilate. J. Bryan Mcgeever, New York Times, "Empathy From a Pro," 8 Mar. 2018 The president’s sycophants are already comparing the Singapore summit to Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China and hyperventilating about Trump ending the Cold War. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "The Trump-Kim Summit Was a Great Photo Op, And Maybe Nothing More," 12 June 2018 Hiaasen was known for his love of James Taylor, and used to tell a story about nearly hyperventilating during an interview with the singer-songwriter. Jean Marbella, baltimoresun.com, "Capital Gazette editor Rob Hiaasen identified as victim of shooting at newspaper," 29 June 2018 As O’Leary’s news sank in, Palomba began to hyperventilate, and everything in her head felt jumbled. Ruth Padawer, New York Times, "Should Statutes of Limitations for Rape Be Abolished?," 19 June 2018 In one scene Maisie freezes and hyperventilates, her eyes wide open, as Lex did when faced with raptors. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "We’re Going to Need a Bigger Island," 22 June 2018 The usual suspects have been hyperventilating about the latest secondhand report of something Pope Francis said to a gay man. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Why We Should Say Yes to Drugs," 25 May 2018 Buzz60 The teenager accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school hyperventilated, threw up and then was calmed down by officers when he was caught after the massacre, according to a police report released Thursday. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Parkland suspect Nikolas Cruz threw up during arrest by police," 19 Apr. 2018 Cruz had trouble standing and hyperventilated as police helped him stay on his feet, according to a Coconut Creek police report written by Michael Leonard, the officer who arrested Cruz. Tonya Alanez, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Nikolas Cruz vomited and hyperventilated when a witness ID'd him, police report says," 19 Apr. 2018

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

1931, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for hyperventilate

Last Updated

21 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for hyperventilate

The first known use of hyperventilate was in 1931

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More Definitions for hyperventilate



English Language Learners Definition of hyperventilate

: to breathe very quickly and deeply


hy·​per·​ven·​ti·​late | \ˌhī-pər-ˈven-tə-ˌlāt \
hyperventilated; hyperventilating

Kids Definition of hyperventilate

: to breathe very quickly and deeply


hy·​per·​ven·​ti·​late | \-ˈvent-ᵊl-ˌāt \
hyperventilated; hyperventilating

Medical Definition of hyperventilate 

intransitive verb

: to breathe rapidly and deeply : undergo hyperventilation some swimmers hyperventilate

transitive verb

: to subject to hyperventilation he hyperventilated his lungs by deep breathing

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a knickknack or trinket

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