• synonyms


[hweez, weez]
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verb (used without object), wheezed, wheez·ing.
  1. to breathe with difficulty and with a whistling sound: Asthma caused him to wheeze.
  2. to make a sound resembling difficult breathing: The old locomotive wheezed into the station.
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  1. a wheezing breath or sound.
  2. an old and frequently used joke, saying, story, etc.
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Origin of wheeze

1425–75; late Middle English whese (v.), probably < Old Norse hvæsa to hiss
Related formswheez·er, nounwheez·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wheeze

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Of course he had the wheeze all wrong and I saw that he should be in bed.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • She was so weak in the chest you could hear her wheeze as far as you could see her.

  • If only he could get that wheeze off: "Phyllis is my only joy!"

    Five Tales

    John Galsworthy

  • I'm the biggest giddy fool at that kind of wheeze that ever lived.

    War and the Weird

    Forbes Phillips

  • Snuffle and wheeze—snuffle and wheeze of the asthmatic Chinamans breathing.

    Dust of the Desert

    Robert Welles Ritchie

British Dictionary definitions for wheeze


  1. to breathe or utter (something) with a rasping or whistling sound
  2. (intr) to make or move with a noise suggestive of wheezy breathing
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  1. a husky, rasping, or whistling sound or breathing
  2. British slang a trick, idea, or plan (esp in the phrase good wheeze)
  3. informal a hackneyed joke or anecdote
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Derived Formswheezer, nounwheezy, adjectivewheezily, adverbwheeziness, noun

Word Origin

C15: probably from Old Norse hvǣsa to hiss
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 wheeze


mid-15c., probably from a Scandinavian source (cf. Old Norse hvoesa "to hiss," Danish hvæse) cognate with Old English hwæst "act of blowing," hwosan "to cough," from an imitative root. Related: Wheezed; wheezing. The noun is first recorded 1834.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wheeze in Medicine


  1. To breathe with difficulty, producing a hoarse whistling sound.
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  1. A wheezing sound.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.