aspiration

noun

as·​pi·​ra·​tion ˌa-spə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce aspiration (audio)
1
a
: a strong desire to achieve something high or great
an aspiration to become famous
usually plural
a young man with political/literary aspirations
b
: an object of such desire
An acting career is her aspiration.
2
: a drawing of something in, out, up, or through by or as if by suction: such as
a
: the act of breathing and especially of breathing in
b
: the withdrawal (as by suction) of fluid or tissue from the body
the aspiration of stomach fluids
c
: the taking of foreign matter into the lungs with the respiratory current
problems caused by the aspiration of fluids into the patient's lungs
3
linguistics
a
: audible breath that accompanies or comprises a speech sound
b
: the pronunciation or addition of an aspiration
the aspiration of the letter "h" in "a house"
also : the symbol of an aspiration
Choose the Right Synonym for aspiration

ambition, aspiration, pretension mean strong desire for advancement.

ambition applies to the desire for personal advancement or preferment and may suggest equally a praiseworthy or an inordinate desire.

driven by ambition

aspiration implies a striving after something higher than oneself.

an aspiration to become president someday

pretension suggests ardent desire for recognition of accomplishment often without actual possession of the necessary ability and therefore may imply presumption.

has literary pretensions

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web For a while this technical aspiration to build thinner watches became the focus of Piaget, perhaps at the cost of its emphasis toward elegance and beauty. Anthony Demarco, Forbes, 20 Dec. 2022 Or excellence, aspiration, power, grace and activism — all the adjectives that attach to athletes. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 22 Dec. 2022 The problem came from doing so all the time, as a lifestyle, an aspiration, an obsession. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 10 Nov. 2022 There’s a Warholian riff here on celebrity—or the aspiration to celebrity—as a performance in its own right. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 28 Sep. 2022 This dignified landmark of struggle, aspiration, assimilation, and ethnic pride is a quintessentially American monument to the immigrant experience. Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books, 7 Sep. 2022 But the law also opened pathways for another core American aspiration: free-market economics. WIRED, 19 Aug. 2022 The main concern here is aspiration, Sarah Andrews, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, tells SELF. Jessica Toscano, SELF, 16 Aug. 2022 This is a uterine aspiration—a procedure in which tissue remaining from the pregnancy is removed. Wired, 7 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aspiration.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of aspiration was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near aspiration

Cite this Entry

“Aspiration.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aspiration. Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

aspiration

noun
as·​pi·​ra·​tion ˌas-pə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce aspiration (audio)
1
: pronunciation with or as an aspirate
2
: a drawing of something in, out, up, or through by suction
3
a
: a strong desire to achieve something high or great
b
: an object of such desire

Medical Definition

aspiration

noun
as·​pi·​ra·​tion ˌas-pə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce aspiration (audio)
: a drawing of something in, out, up, or through by or as if by suction: as
a
: the act of breathing and especially of breathing in
b
: the withdrawal of fluid or friable tissue from the body
c
: the taking of foreign matter into the lungs with the respiratory current
aspirational adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on aspiration

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