from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To draw in the breath sharply, as from shock.
  • intransitive v. To breathe convulsively or laboriously.
  • transitive v. To utter in a breathless manner.
  • n. A short convulsive intake or catching of the breath.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A short, sudden intake of breath.
  • n. (slang): A draw or drag on a cigarette (or gasper).
  • v. : To draw in the breath suddenly, as if from a shock.
  • v. : To breathe laboriously or convulsively.
  • v. : To speak in a breathless manner

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of opening the mouth convulsively to catch the breath; a labored respiration; a painful catching of the breath.
  • intransitive v. To open the mouth wide in catching the breath, or in laborious respiration; to labor for breath; to respire convulsively; to pant violently.
  • intransitive v. To pant with eagerness; to show vehement desire.
  • transitive v. To emit or utter with gasps; -- with forth, out, away, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To labor for breath with open mouth; respire convulsively; pant with great effort.
  • To desire with eagerness; crave vehemently.
  • To emit or utter gaspingly: with away, forth, out, etc.
  • n. The act of catching the breath with open mouth; labored respiration; a short, convulsive catching of the breath.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a short labored intake of breath with the mouth open
  • v. breathe noisily, as when one is exhausted


Middle English gaspen, gaispen, to gape, yawn, from Old Norse geispa, to yawn.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Perhaps from Old Norse geispa or Danish gispe. (Wiktionary)



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  • Pressed the hand to the panel and received, like magic, the string of blips, the gasp, the open door. From "The Last Werewolf" by Glen Duncan.

    April 1, 2012

  • "Fight till the last gasp."
    -Henry VI Part 2, Shakespeare

    (I think it's part 2??)

    July 26, 2009