[ klaw-struh-foh-bik ]
/ ˌklɔ strəˈfoʊ bɪk /
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relating to, having, or experiencing claustrophobia.
tending to induce claustrophobia: a small, airless, claustrophobic room.
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Origin of claustrophobic

First recorded in 1885–90; claustrophob(ia), + -ic see also -phobic

OTHER WORDS FROM claustrophobic

claus·tro·pho·bi·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does claustrophobic mean?

Claustrophobic is used to describe a person who has feelings of claustrophobia—the fear of being in (and not being able to get out of) small or confined spaces, such as tunnels, elevators, and crowded rooms.

Claustrophobic is also commonly used to describe confined spaces that may make people feel this way.

Claustrophobia is recognized as a psychological disorder and is often considered a kind of anxiety disorder. Those who are diagnosed with it often experience extreme anxiety when in confined spaces or when facing the possibility of being in one, which can result in a panic attack. But the word claustrophobia is also commonly used in a more general way to refer to the anxious discomfort that many people feel when they’re in an enclosed space. (In this way, many people’s feelings of claustrophobia don’t constitute a disorder.) Claustrophobic is also commonly used in this general way.

Phobias are fears associated with specific objects or activities. These abnormal (unusual) fears are typically considered irrational (not based on reason) because the object of the fear isn’t usually harmful. Often, these fears are formed around a traumatic event.

People who are claustrophobic were once commonly referred to with the term claustrophobe, and some may still identify in this way, but this and many other similar labels based on medical conditions are often considered dehumanizing. It is now typically preferred to avoid the use of the word claustrophobe and focus on the person first instead of their condition, as in Kevin is claustrophobic or Kevin has claustrophobia (not Kevin is a claustrophobe).

Example: I try to avoid even getting near tight spaces that may make me feel claustrophobic.

Where does claustrophobic come from?

The first records of the word claustrophobic come from the late 1800s. It comes from the Latin claustr(um), meaning “barrier,” and -phobic, the adjective form of -phobia, from a Greek word meaning “fear.” It follows the same pattern as many adjectives based on specific phobias, such as agoraphobic (used to describe people who have a fear of crowds and public spaces).

Claustrophobia is one of the most common phobias. However, not everyone who feels claustrophobic experiences this feeling in a way that rises to the level of an anxiety disorder. Those who do may experience feelings of anxiety, hyperventilation, tightness in the chest, trembling, and panic attacks, among other symptoms. Treatment of claustrophobia can involve psychotherapy and medication.

Spaces described as claustrophobic may be small and confined, such as a phone booth, or crowded, with not much space to move around.

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What are some other forms related to claustrophobic?

What are some words that share a root or word element with claustrophobic



What are some words that often get used in discussing claustrophobic?

How is claustrophobic used in real life?

Claustrophobic is commonly used in a general way to describe people feeling discomfort in tight spaces, or the spaces that make them feel that way.



How to use claustrophobic in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for claustrophobic

/ (ˌklɔːstrəˈfəʊbɪk, ˌklɒs-) /

suffering from claustrophobia
unpleasantly cramped, confined, or closed innarrow claustrophobic spaces

Derived forms of claustrophobic

claustrophobically, adverb
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