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[gasp, gahsp] /gæsp, gɑsp/
a sudden, short intake of breath, as in shock or surprise.
a convulsive effort to breathe.
a short, convulsive utterance:
the words came out in gasps.
verb (used without object)
to catch one's breath.
to struggle for breath with the mouth open; breathe convulsively.
to long with breathless eagerness; desire; crave (usually followed by for or after).
verb (used with object)
to utter with gasps (often followed by out, forth, away, etc.):
She gasped out the words.
to breathe or emit with gasps (often followed by away).
last gasp, the point of death; dying:
At his last gasp he confessed to the murder.
Origin of gasp
1350-1400; Middle English gaspen, probably Old English *gāspen, equivalent to Old Norse geispa; akin to gape
Related forms
gaspingly, adverb
4, 5. puff, blow. See pant1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gasp
  • He was again gasp- ing for breath when he finished, but he felt much lighter, and it was less of an effort to stay afloat.
  • The picture he has on his website made me gasp and is fodder for students' and colleagues' laughter.
  • The company remained hopeful that a buyer would emerge at the last gasp.
  • Had to take a deep gasp before she told her husband.
  • It was enormous fun to hear each reader murmur and gasp.
  • But parts of the city are clearly breathing their last gasp.
  • The agreement, coming at the last gasp of a regional peace effort, seems surprisingly generous on the government's part.
  • There was no announcement this year that elicited any sort of collective gasp from the audience.
  • When he showed slides of them at his lectures, audiences would sometimes gasp with horror.
  • The following facts about sleep bruxism made me gasp.
British Dictionary definitions for gasp


(intransitive) to draw in the breath sharply, convulsively, or with effort, esp in expressing awe, horror, etc
(intransitive; foll by after or for) to crave
(transitive) often foll by out. to utter or emit breathlessly
a short convulsive intake of breath
a short convulsive burst of speech
at the last gasp
  1. at the point of death
  2. at the last moment
Derived Forms
gaspingly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old Norse geispa to yawn; related to Swedish dialect gispa, Danish gispe
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 gasp

late 14c., gaspen, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old Norse geispa "to yawn," or its Danish derivative gispe "gasp," which probably are related to Old Norse gapa (see gape). Related: Gasped; gasping.


1570s, from gasp (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gasp in Technology
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for gasp


Group Against Smoking in Public
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with gasp


see: last gasp
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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