• synonyms


[gasp, gahsp]
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  1. a sudden, short intake of breath, as in shock or surprise.
  2. a convulsive effort to breathe.
  3. a short, convulsive utterance: the words came out in gasps.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to catch one's breath.
  2. to struggle for breath with the mouth open; breathe convulsively.
  3. to long with breathless eagerness; desire; crave (usually followed by for or after).
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verb (used with object)
  1. to utter with gasps (often followed by out, forth, away, etc.): She gasped out the words.
  2. to breathe or emit with gasps (often followed by away).
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  1. last gasp, the point of death; dying: At his last gasp he confessed to the murder.
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Origin of gasp

1350–1400; Middle English gaspen, probably Old English *gāspen, equivalent to Old Norse geispa; akin to gape
Related formsgasp·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for gasp

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4, 5. puff, blow. See pant1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for gasping

whoop, snort, choke, blow, inhale, inspire, pant, convulse, gulp, respire, puff, wheeze, heave, sniffle

Examples from the Web for gasping

Contemporary Examples of gasping

Historical Examples of gasping

  • With parched throats, gasping for breath, they lay back in agony.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Banstead at last relieved his feelings with a gasping, "Well, I'm damned!"


    William J. Locke

  • He spoke with a gasping voice, and his face flushed crimson in the moonlight.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The stranger dies, while the Indian, sweating and gasping for breath, survives.

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

  • "It is not sand," said Monny, gasping a little in the heavy air.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

British Dictionary definitions for gasping


  1. (intr) to draw in the breath sharply, convulsively, or with effort, esp in expressing awe, horror, etc
  2. (intr; foll by after or for) to crave
  3. (tr often foll by out) to utter or emit breathlessly
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  1. a short convulsive intake of breath
  2. a short convulsive burst of speech
  3. at the last gasp
    1. at the point of death
    2. at the last moment
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Derived Formsgaspingly, adverb

Word Origin for gasp

C14: from Old Norse geispa to yawn; related to Swedish dialect gispa, Danish gispe
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 gasping



late 14c., gaspen, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old Norse geispa "to yawn," or its Danish derivative gispe "gasp," which probably are related to Old Norse gapa (see gape). Related: Gasped; gasping.

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1570s, from gasp (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with gasping


see last gasp.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.