hy·​per·​ven·​ti·​late ˌhī-pər-ˈven-tə-ˌlāt How to pronounce hyperventilate (audio)
hyperventilated; hyperventilating; hyperventilates

intransitive verb

: to breathe rapidly and deeply : undergo hyperventilation

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 The Democratic hand-wringing may have elevated to hyperventilating with the release of a couple of late-December surveys. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Feb. 2024 But sometimes, a series will sneak through that offers more than titillation, cheap thrills, and hyperventilating aesthetics. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 20 Jan. 2024 At points, his crackling prose froths over into hyperventilating superfan’s rants—an approach that befits a band with such a passionate following. Saby Reyes-Kulkarni, SPIN, 20 Dec. 2023 And in a confidential safety report last year, a Jacksonville controller described hyperventilating and struggling to stand after two hours of directing heavy plane traffic. Sydney Ember, New York Times, 2 Dec. 2023 This sporadically fun but exhausting hot mess provides 202 minutes of hyperventilating overkill for star Ranbir Kapoor as a tycoon’s favorite son whose anger-management (as well as daddy) issues are off the charts. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 2 Dec. 2023 The leaps from aggressiveness to tenderness to mistrust to shame and back again occur abruptly, as Roberta and Danny segue from the hyperventilating encounter in the bar, to that fever dance, to the bed in Roberta’s room in her parents’ house. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2023 And Democrats, in predictable fashion, will be hyperventilating over every tenth-of-a-point shift in swing state polls and national polling averages. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 9 Oct. 2023 Walters walks down the center aisle, stopping for selfies with hyperventilating fans who find the courage to approach him. Ryan D'agostino, Men's Health, 22 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hyperventilate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1931, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hyperventilate was in 1931

Dictionary Entries Near hyperventilate

Cite this Entry

“Hyperventilate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperventilate. Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


hy·​per·​ven·​ti·​late -ˈvent-ᵊl-ˌāt How to pronounce hyperventilate (audio)
hyperventilated; hyperventilating

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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