Definition of gasp in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡɑːsp/


[no object]
1Catch one’s breath with an open mouth, owing to pain or astonishment: a woman gasped in horror at the sight of him
More example sentences
  • Pain coursed through her body, but she did not have a mouth to gasp in pain with.
  • He gasped softly and opened his mouth several times before quickly recovering himself.
  • Everyone gasped as they caught their first glimpse of the gaping hole in the tower and the billowing smoke.
pant, puff, puff and pant, blow, heave, wheeze, breathe hard, breathe heavily, catch one's breath, draw in one's breath, gulp, choke, fight for breath, struggle for air
1.1 [with object] Say (something) while catching one’s breath: Jeremy gasped out an apology [with direct speech]: ‘It’s beautiful!’ she gasped, much impressed
More example sentences
  • In the early songs it's nothing but pain, but in the sultry love ballads, the hurting man gasps his sigh of relief and release.
  • It's all told in flashback, as MacMurray gasps his story into a dictograph for Robinson to hear the following morning.
  • Several of the children around me gasped their amazement and I had to agree, it was quite cool.
1.2 (gasp for) Strain to obtain (air) by gasping: she surfaced and gasped for air
More example sentences
  • She hit the water with a cold shock, and strained for the surface, gasping for air.
  • Where the movie flops on its back and gasps for air is in its fight sequences, which are so choppily and confusingly staged that I quickly gave up trying to follow 'em.
  • The rain came down in buckets, but it did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of these oarsmen, whose gasps for air exactly matched the rhythm of the drum as it reverberated along the lake.
1.3 (be gasping for) British informal Be desperate to obtain or consume; crave: I’m gasping for a drink!
More example sentences
  • It had the crazed acousti-rock revolution it had been gasping for.
  • I was gasping for a drink after the long climb up to St Andre.
  • By the time we got onto the motorway and had found ourselves on familiar ground, I was gasping for coffee and something to eat.


A convulsive catching of breath: his breath was coming in gasps
More example sentences
  • His breath was coming out in great ragged gasps and for a second she thought she was having an asthma attack.
  • Some, including both our witnesses, cursed us between gasps of breath for dragging them up ‘some crazy hill’ on a hot summer's day.
  • His breath came in short gasps as he walked on and on, driven by an insane energy, till he finally reached the riverside.
pant, puff, blow, breath, inhalation, inspiration, drawing in of breath, choke, gulp (of air);
exclamation, ejaculation


one's (or the) last gasp

The point of exhaustion, death, or completion: the last gasp of the Cold War
More example sentences
  • They're on their last gasp or they've been decimated.
  • But I don't want the already struggling non-corporate bookstores to give up their last gasp.
  • I was with him at his last gasp and kissed him on the forehead.


Late Middle English: from Old Norse geispa 'to yawn'.

Words that rhyme with gasp

clasp, grasp, hasp, rasp

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: gasp

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