Definition of gasp in US English:

gasp

verb

[no object]
  • 1Inhale suddenly with the mouth open, out of pain or astonishment.

    ‘a woman gasped in horror at the sight of him’
    • ‘Pain coursed through her body, but she did not have a mouth to gasp in pain with.’
    • ‘Slowly opening the box, I almost gasped out loud.’
    • ‘I looked in the direction she pointed and gasped softly in surprise.’
    • ‘Everyone gasped as they caught their first glimpse of the gaping hole in the tower and the billowing smoke.’
    • ‘The audience gasped audibly at a few of these.’
    • ‘I nearly gasp out loud, one hand flying back to my mouth.’
    • ‘I gasped slightly in pain and watched him stride away.’
    • ‘The crowd gasped in surprise, but soon resumed their incessant cheering.’
    • ‘She nearly gasped out loud at this insult.’
    • ‘I looked up and almost gasped in horror.’
    • ‘He gasped softly and opened his mouth several times before quickly recovering himself.’
    • ‘His live drum solos, though thankfully brief, used to leave audiences gasping.’
    • ‘He nearly gasped audibly when he saw what had been written on the page.’
    • ‘She gasps with the pain of the gun barrel in her ribs.’
    • ‘Their hands touched briefly and she almost gasped in shock.’
    • ‘The two women gasped in delight and clapped their hands.’
    • ‘Despite their gloom, the girls gasped in amazement.’
    • ‘A faint scratching could be heard on the other side of the door and each boy gasped in fear.’
    • ‘The Queen gasped softly in shock as understanding dawned on her.’
    • ‘The other men gasped at the sight, and charged at him.’
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Say (something) while catching one's breath, especially as a result of strong emotion.
      ‘Jeremy gasped out an apology’
      with direct speech ‘“It's beautiful!,” she gasped, much impressed’
      • ‘She tried to gasp an apology, but my hand stopped her lips from moving.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Even though his windpipe was nearly crushed, he managed to gasp a single word.’
      • ‘Several of the children around me gasped their amazement and I had to agree, it was quite cool.’
      • ‘"You guys, " she gasped through her laughter.’
      • ‘It's all told in flashback, as MacMurray gasps his story into a dictograph for Robinson to hear the following morning.’
      • ‘He ran back, through the cold wind, barely able to gasp his request for a Bible.’
    2. 1.2 Strain to take a deep breath.
      ‘she surfaced and gasped for air’
      • ‘She hit the water with a cold shock, and strained for the surface, gasping for air.’
      • ‘Police and firefighters gasped for air as they emerged from the sealed-off area.’
      • ‘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 county has been adrift and buffeted since the break-up of the team of the past decade and now they are gasping for air.’
      • ‘She landed on her hands and knees and just stayed there, gasping a bit for breath.’
      • ‘She was left so out of breath by the journey on foot that even 20 hours later she was still gasping for air.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘He limped to the edge of the ring, and there he collapsed in the grass, his flanks heaving as he gasped for air.’
      • ‘He makes the sound of a fish gasping for air, and this is repeated nine or ten times.’
      • ‘Rose finished her speech, gasping slightly for breath, pulling the dressing gown around her further.’
      • ‘She drank it slowly, then gasped again for air.’
      • ‘The child will walk around the house and scream in a panic while gasping for air and sweating.’
      • ‘No more sitting on my couch or in my car gasping for air and thinking that I am going to die on the spot.’
      • ‘I stood up and tried to gasp for air but couldn't.’
      • ‘When the daughter walked into the front room she saw her mother lying on the floor, unconscious and gasping for air.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My breaths shortened considerably, until I audibly gasped for air.’
      • ‘On some tracks, in fact, it gets a bit distracting because you can hear him in the background gasping for air.’

noun

  • A convulsive catching of breath.

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

Phrases

  • 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.’
      • ‘He materialised in front of the goal in the fading moments to snatch a last - gasp leveller.’
      • ‘From the moment we leave our mother's body at birth to our last gasp on our deathbed, we need air every minute.’
      • ‘But I don't want the already struggling non-corporate bookstores to give up their last gasp.’
      • ‘This is a dispute so absurd it scarcely seems worth arguing, the last gasp of exclusionary privilege that began its death rattle in 1990.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Optimism was briefly restored when he scored his dramatic last-gasp goal to take the team into yet another cliffhanger.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old Norse geispa ‘to yawn’.

Pronunciation

gasp

/ɡasp//ɡæsp/