Definition of gasp in English:



  • 1 Catch one's breath with an open mouth, owing to pain or astonishment.

    ‘a woman gasped in horror at the sight of him’
    • ‘His live drum solos, though thankfully brief, used to leave audiences gasping.’
    • ‘Everyone gasped as they caught their first glimpse of the gaping hole in the tower and the billowing smoke.’
    • ‘The two women gasped in delight and clapped their hands.’
    • ‘The crowd gasped in surprise, but soon resumed their incessant cheering.’
    • ‘Despite their gloom, the girls gasped in amazement.’
    • ‘The audience gasped audibly at a few of these.’
    • ‘She gasps with the pain of the gun barrel in her ribs.’
    • ‘Pain coursed through her body, but she did not have a mouth to gasp in pain with.’
    • ‘I nearly gasp out loud, one hand flying back to my mouth.’
    • ‘I looked up and almost gasped in horror.’
    • ‘Slowly opening the box, I almost gasped out loud.’
    • ‘The other men gasped at the sight, and charged at him.’
    • ‘He gasped softly and opened his mouth several times before quickly recovering himself.’
    • ‘I gasped slightly in pain and watched him stride away.’
    • ‘Their hands touched briefly and she almost gasped in shock.’
    • ‘She nearly gasped out loud at this insult.’
    • ‘I looked in the direction she pointed and gasped softly in surprise.’
    • ‘The Queen gasped softly in shock as understanding dawned on her.’
    • ‘He nearly gasped audibly when he saw what had been written on the page.’
    • ‘A faint scratching could be heard on the other side of the door and each boy gasped in fear.’
    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
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    1. 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He ran back, through the cold wind, barely able to gasp his request for a Bible.’
      • ‘Even though his windpipe was nearly crushed, he managed to gasp a single word.’
      • ‘It's all told in flashback, as MacMurray gasps his story into a dictograph for Robinson to hear the following morning.’
      • ‘She tried to gasp an apology, but my hand stopped her lips from moving.’
      • ‘"You guys, " she gasped through her laughter.’
      • ‘Several of the children around me gasped their amazement and I had to agree, it was quite cool.’
    2. 1.2Strain to obtain (air) by gasping.
      ‘she surfaced and gasped for air’
      • ‘He makes the sound of a fish gasping for air, and this is repeated nine or ten times.’
      • ‘She landed on her hands and knees and just stayed there, gasping a bit for breath.’
      • ‘She drank it slowly, then gasped again for air.’
      • ‘Rose finished her speech, gasping slightly for breath, pulling the dressing gown around her further.’
      • ‘I completely lose all sense of where I am and begin to panic, gasping for air and taking in large amounts of warm Caribbean sea.’
      • ‘I stood up and tried to gasp for air but couldn't.’
      • ‘My breaths shortened considerably, until I audibly gasped for air.’
      • ‘He limped to the edge of the ring, and there he collapsed in the grass, his flanks heaving as he gasped for air.’
      • ‘As the city gasps for fiscal air, it's only fair to be clear that the city's budget difficulties are a result of provincial mendacity and not local mismanagement.’
      • ‘The child will walk around the house and scream in a panic while gasping for air and sweating.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I inhaled a lungful of salt water, jerked my head up to choke and gasp for air, then smacked my face back into the water so I could monitor the shark.’
      • ‘No more sitting on my couch or in my car gasping for air and thinking that I am going to die on the spot.’
      • ‘When the daughter walked into the front room she saw her mother lying on the floor, unconscious and gasping for air.’
      • ‘The county has been adrift and buffeted since the break-up of the team of the past decade and now they are gasping for air.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Police and firefighters gasped for air as they emerged from the sealed-off area.’
      • ‘She was left so out of breath by the journey on foot that even 20 hours later she was still gasping for air.’
      • ‘She hit the water with a cold shock, and strained for the surface, gasping for air.’
      • ‘On some tracks, in fact, it gets a bit distracting because you can hear him in the background gasping for air.’
    3. 1.3British informal Be desperate to obtain or consume; crave.
      ‘I'm gasping for a drink!’
      • ‘After unpacking my sleeping bag, toothbrush and kettle, I was gasping for a cup of tea.’
      • ‘After skiing along spookily quiet floodlit trails, you may be gasping for a pint to wash down your fondue with, but if the price of a pint isn't enough to put you off drinking here, the thought of having to ski back home in the dark may well be.’
      • ‘An integral part of the rich Assamese art and culture, which has flabbergasted renowned scholars, this highly skilled art is gasping for survival.’
      • ‘A century from now will we be gasping for water in an increasingly roasting world or huddling around a few burning sticks, struggling to keep at bay the bitter cold of a cosmic winter?’
      • ‘And the affirmation of life is what we had all been gasping for in an effort to regain the totality of our humanity.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Social discipline has broken down, the economy is gasping for life and people's emotions are being provoked into ever-threatening spirals of discord and violence.’
      • ‘It had the crazed acousti-rock revolution it had been gasping for.’
      • ‘Without a single zinger in the bunch, this comedy is gasping for laughs, and should be relegated to the $2.99 bin very soon.’


  • A convulsive catching of breath.

    ‘his breath was coming in gasps’
    • ‘His breath was coming out in great ragged gasps and for a second she thought she was having an asthma attack.’
    • ‘Without warning, he pulled his adversary's hood down, which drew a collective gasp from the crowd.’
    • ‘He winced at her startled, horrified gasp and continued.’
    • ‘With each gasp for breath, the wolves became more and more tired.’
    • ‘There was an audible gasp from their audience, and justly so.’
    • ‘All I could hear was my own breath, coming in gasps.’
    • ‘Some are still alive, breathing in ragged gasps and blinking slowly.’
    • ‘When I saw what he had been hiding, a startled gasp escaped my lips.’
    • ‘Her breath was coming in short, ragged gasps.’
    • ‘Emily's hand came up to cover her mouth as she stifled a gasp of surprise.’
    • ‘She let out a small, involuntary gasp of surprise.’
    • ‘As we pulled up in front of the estate, I heard her soft gasp of surprise.’
    • ‘His breath came in short gasps as he walked on and on, driven by an insane energy, till he finally reached the riverside.’
    • ‘In spite of the collected gasp from the crowd, he took it well.’
    • ‘I covered my mouth, trying to muffle and stifle my horrified gasp.’
    • ‘Some, including both our witnesses, cursed us between gasps of breath for dragging them up ‘some crazy hill’ on a hot summer's day.’
    • ‘As he finished saying this, he heard a soft gasp for air, and delayed breathing.’
    • ‘Her breathing became shallower, short gasps for the air she needed in her lungs.’
    • ‘Amid the gasps from the audience, the senators' faces drained of smugness.’
    • ‘Then I whipped out my completed hat and there were gasps of astonishment.’
    pant, puff, blow, breath, inhalation, inspiration, drawing in of breath, choke
    exclamation, ejaculation
    View synonyms


  • one's (or the) last gasp

    • The point of exhaustion, death, or completion.

      ‘the last gasp of the Cold War’
      • ‘They're on their last gasp or they've been decimated.’
      • ‘The truth is, her last gasp of enthusiasm is behind her, and she's ready to admit that she'd rather be three years younger and sitting in the dark of a movie theater in a Connecticut suburb than in an orange grove overlooking the city of Rome.’
      • ‘But I don't want the already struggling non-corporate bookstores to give up their last gasp.’
      • ‘He materialised in front of the goal in the fading moments to snatch a last - gasp leveller.’
      • ‘This is the last gasp, and last gasps have a way of imploding in a vaingloriously spectacular way, as though their protagonists knew they were going to go down - they just wanted to go down in style.’
      • ‘From the moment we leave our mother's body at birth to our last gasp on our deathbed, we need air every minute.’
      • ‘This is a dispute so absurd it scarcely seems worth arguing, the last gasp of exclusionary privilege that began its death rattle in 1990.’
      • ‘Optimism was briefly restored when he scored his dramatic last-gasp goal to take the team into yet another cliffhanger.’
      • ‘I was with him at his last gasp and kissed him on the forehead.’
      • ‘The 1950s was the last gasp for Victorian ways of life - and I know, I had to survive the Fifties!’


Late Middle English: from Old Norse geispa to yawn.