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.

Example Sentences

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 Physically, Mitchell was unstable and began to hyperventilate before falling to the ground. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 24 Jan. 2023 But Rittenhouse began to hyperventilate and stall his words as the discussion turned to his encounter with Joseph Rosenbaum at the edge of a Kenosha car lot. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10 Nov. 2021 While right-wing pundits hyperventilate about an incipient Biden dictatorship, Democrats in Congress can’t even get paid family leave or a wealth tax on billionaires into their make-or-break reconciliation bill. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 28 Oct. 2021 The problem was associated with impaired regulation of blood flow and an inability to use oxygen efficiently, causing patients to feel fatigue, shortness of breath and lightheadedness, and to hyperventilate during exercise. Laura Landro, WSJ, 22 Oct. 2021 The Jason Brown in the car was starting to hyperventilate, while the Jason Brown watching this on TV was curious to see what happened next. Jason Brown, The New Yorker, 2 May 2021 Some people have severe symptoms, says Dr. Samuel, hyperventilating multiple times a week or even daily. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 23 Apr. 2020 Behind the scenes of his digital cover photo shoot, Centineo goes from hyperventilating from the pressure of having to transform into America's favorite heartthrob to whispering sweet nothings into his own reflection on his iPhone. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 11 Feb. 2020 Change is likely not coming in Guaido's wake -- and his air miles are more a bid to resuscitate himself on the international stage than a chance for foreign capitals to hyperventilate about his transitional presidency. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, 21 Jan. 2020 See More

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.

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 30 Mar. 2023.

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
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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