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[uh-spahyuh r] /əˈspaɪər/
verb (used without object), aspired, aspiring.
to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value (usually followed by to, after, or an infinitive):
to aspire after literary immortality; to aspire to be a doctor.
Archaic. to rise up; soar; mount; tower.
Origin of aspire
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English (< Middle French aspirer) < Latin aspīrāre to breathe upon, pant after, equivalent to a- a-5 + spīrāre to breathe, blow
Related forms
aspirer, noun
aspiringly, adverb
nonaspiring, adjective
unaspiring, adjective
unaspiringly, adverb
1. yearn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for aspiring
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You will find in your platoons dukes sons and cooks sons, aspiring generals—and some ruddy fools.

    John Brown Captain R. W. Campbell
  • Skilful, aspiring, resolute, he grew steadily in knowledge and in power.

  • It is not pleasant to be called green, but I would rather be green and aspiring than blase and hide-bound at nineteen.

    Remarks Bill Nye
  • She was not by nature bad, although vain, selfish, and aspiring.

    The Golden Dog William Kirby
  • In his aspirations the American is more constant than an Englishman,—or I should rather say he is more constant in aspiring.

British Dictionary definitions for aspiring


verb (intransitive)
usually foll by to or after. to yearn (for) or have a powerful or ambitious plan, desire, or hope (to do or be something): to aspire to be a great leader
to rise to a great height
Derived Forms
aspirer, noun
aspiring, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin aspīrāre to breathe upon, from spīrāre to breathe
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
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Word Origin and History for aspiring



"to strive for," c.1400, from Old French aspirer "aspire to; inspire; breathe, breathe on" (12c.), from Latin aspirare "to breathe upon, to breathe," also, in transferred senses, "to be favorable to, assist; to climb up to, to endeavor to obtain, to reach to, to seek to reach; infuse," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit (n.)). The notion is of "panting with desire," or perhaps of rising smoke. Related: Aspired; aspiring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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