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From Middle English whesen, perhaps from Old Norse hvæsa (to hiss), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ḱwes- (to pant).



wheeze (third-person singular simple present wheezes, present participle wheezing, simple past and past participle wheezed)

  1. To breathe hard, and with an audible piping or whistling sound, as persons affected with asthma.
  2. (slang) To convulse with laughter; to become breathless due to intense laughing.
    • 1932, Herbert George Jenkins, Bindle Omnibus, page 408:
      Mrs. Hearty began to shake and wheeze with laughter, and Millie stood looking at Bindle.
    • 1973, Robert Boston, A Thorn for the Flesh, page 30:
      He began to wheeze again, and tears rolled down his furrowed cheeks. Nate was laughing, too, infected by Check's contagious wheezing.
    • 1988, Elizabeth Oldfield, Beware of Married Men, page 47:
      Elsie wheezed, laughter swelling her bosom.
    • 1993, Richard S. Wheeler, The Two Medicine River, page 221:
      The man wheezed, his laughter like an accordion whine.
  3. (Should we delete(+) this sense?) To make a sound that resembles the sound of human wheezing.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 184:
      "Even the fish know it; they don't rise to the bait any more and the birds are scared - hear how they wheeze and cry as they seek the land."
    • 2009, J. P. White, Every Boat Turns South, page 112:
      One boy in a black tuxedo and red shoes plays a wheezing accordion like a roadside undertaker.



wheeze (plural wheezes)

  1. A piping or whistling sound caused by difficult respiration.
  2. An ordinary whisper exaggerated so as to produce the hoarse sound known as the "stage whisper"; a forcible whisper with some admixture of tone.
  3. (British, Irish, slang) An ulterior scheme or plan
  4. (slang) Something very humorous or laughable.
    The new comedy is a wheeze.
    You think you're going to win? That's a real wheeze!
  5. A sound that resembles a human wheezing.
    • 2016, Heather Hildenbrand, A Bet Worth Making[2]:
      At the same time I felt them fall over my brows — time to get a cut — the engine gave a final wheeze and died.



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  • wheeze at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • wheeze in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.