death rattle

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death rattle (plural death rattles)

  1. The raspy or gurgling sound sometimes made by a person as he or she draws in or expels the final breaths in the moments before dying.
    • 1840, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 14, in Catherine: A Story:
      The death-rattle gurgled in the throat of his opponent; his arms fell heavily to his side.
    • 1950, Jack Kerouac, The Town and the City, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2001 edition), →ISBN, p. 476:
      George Martin had died as though in his sleep, so quietly that no one had even guessed. And what Peter had imagined to be his snores had really been the lonesome death rattle.
    • 2006, Carol O'Connell, Find Me[1], →ISBN, page 277:
      And so this killer—loath to touch a living body—was helpless. He could only wait for an old man's death rattle.