last gasp


[gasp, gahsp]
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.

1350–1400; Middle English gaspen, probably Old English *gāspen, equivalent to Old Norse geispa; akin to gape

gaspingly, adverb

4, 5. puff, blow. See pant1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
gasp (ɡɑːsp)
vb (often foll by out)
1.  (intr) to draw in the breath sharply, convulsively, or with effort, esp in expressing awe, horror, etc
2.  (intr; foll by after or for) to crave
3.  to utter or emit breathlessly
4.  a short convulsive intake of breath
5.  a short convulsive burst of speech
6.  at the last gasp
 a.  at the point of death
 b.  at the last moment
[C14: from Old Norse geispa to yawn; related to Swedish dialect gispa, Danish gispe]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., gaspen, of uncertain origin, perhaps from O.N. geispa "to yawn," or its Dan. derivative gispe "gasp." Related: Gasped; gasping.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
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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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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

last gasp

The moment before death; also, the end. For example, "Fight till the last gasp" (Shakespeare, 1 Henry VI, 1:2), or He was determined to stay at the party until the last gasp. This idiom alludes to taking one's last breath, literally (first example) or figuratively (second example). [Late 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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