an abnormal fear of being in enclosed or narrow places.

Origin of claustrophobia

1875–80; < Latin claustr(um) bolt (see claustrum) + -o- + -phobia
Can be confusedacrophobia agoraphobia claustrophobia Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for claustrophobia

sad, distress, neurosis, restlessness

Examples from the Web for claustrophobia

Contemporary Examples of claustrophobia

  • Arachnophobia is an irrational fear of spiders and claustrophobia is an irrational fear of small places.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Ground Zero Mosque Hurts Islam

    Douglas Murray

    August 12, 2010

Historical Examples of claustrophobia

  • But you must not do this to a Breton fisherman full of drink and claustrophobia.


    John Galsworthy

  • You hear stories about going loopy from claustrophobia and stuff.

    The Planet Strappers

    Raymond Zinke Gallun

  • To-day he was feeling the claustrophobia of London more acutely than usual.

  • I have claustrophobia and would hate to git stuck in an over-sized fountain pen halfway to the middle of this earth.

    Operation Earthworm

    Joe Archibald

  • For the first time in the hundreds of hours he'd spent in the tank, he knew the meaning of claustrophobia.

British Dictionary definitions for claustrophobia



an abnormal fear of being closed in or of being in a confined space
Derived Formsclaustrophobe, noun

Word Origin for claustrophobia

C19: from claustro-, from Latin claustrum cloister + -phobia
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for claustrophobia

"morbid fear of being shut up in a confined space," coined 1879 (in article by Italian-born, French-naturalized Swiss-English physician Dr. Benjamin Ball (1834-1892)) from Latin claustrum "a bolt, a means of closing; a place shut in, confined place, frontier fortress" (in Medieval Latin "cloister"), past participle of claudere "to close" (see close (v.)) + -phobia "fear."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

claustrophobia in Medicine




An abnormal fear of being in narrow or enclosed spaces.
Related formsclaustro•phobe′ n.claus′tro•phobic adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

claustrophobia in Culture



An abnormal fear of being shut in or enclosed.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.