[hweez, weez]

verb (used without object), wheezed, wheez·ing.

to breathe with difficulty and with a whistling sound: Asthma caused him to wheeze.
to make a sound resembling difficult breathing: The old locomotive wheezed into the station.


a wheezing breath or sound.
an old and frequently used joke, saying, story, etc.

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. 2019

Related Words for wheeze

puff, gasp, cough, snore, hiss, rasp, pant, whisper, sibilate, whistle, murmur, buzz

Examples from the Web for wheeze

Contemporary Examples of wheeze

Historical Examples of wheeze

  • 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



to breathe or utter (something) with a rasping or whistling sound
(intr) to make or move with a noise suggestive of wheezy breathing


a husky, rasping, or whistling sound or breathing
British slang a trick, idea, or plan (esp in the phrase good wheeze)
informal a hackneyed joke or anecdote
Derived Formswheezer, nounwheezy, adjectivewheezily, adverbwheeziness, noun

Word Origin for wheeze

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wheeze in Medicine




To breathe with difficulty, producing a hoarse whistling sound.


A wheezing sound.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.