I want to express the following: "Inhale using your mouth with force or power". It does not sound good to me. Is there any single word or a good phrase to express this?

  • Can you add a context??
    – Raghav
    May 6, 2013 at 20:01
  • 1
    Probably something like "Breathe in deeply through your mouth"...
    – Hellion
    May 6, 2013 at 20:14
  • 1
    I think I know exactly what action you're describing. Unfortunatly I don't know a single English word for it. Come to think of it, I cannot describe that action with a single word in my native tongues Armenian and Russian either. Maybe that word simply does not exist? May 6, 2013 at 20:17
  • The answer appears on the first page of Google Search for "thesaurus breathe through mouth"
    – Kris
    May 7, 2013 at 5:20

4 Answers 4


There are a few words that come to mind, but all have subtle connotations:

  • gasp - connotes desperation or exhaustion, the boy gave a gasp of agony.
  • gulp - connotes taking in a large quantity of air in a single action, some may gulp air at the water surface but not absorb the contained O2 for respiration.
  • suck - connotes drawing in air gradually, he began to suck in air through his mouth.
  • Yes, I agree that gasp and gulp are the best two single-word options: e.g., gasp for air like someone drowning. May 6, 2013 at 21:01
  • @p.s.w.g - while I like all 3 of your words, they can have all varying degrees of intensity beyond your description, too. Sucking can be harsh and quick as well as gradual. Gulp can be water or coffee as well as air and "gasp" can be an attempt to breath in an asphyxiation situation as well as an emotional one. I like "gasp" best for OP's use. May 6, 2013 at 21:44
  • @KristinaLopez Without more context, it's hard to know what's best. Gasping for air, gulping air, and sucking air all describe the same basic action but with very different undertones. There are probably a dozen other words that would work better in certain contexts.
    – p.s.w.g
    May 6, 2013 at 21:48

If I understand what you mean, this is generally described as a sharp intake of breath.

  • It's a single word request. May 7, 2013 at 0:41
  • @MarkCidade the question also says or a good phrase.
    – Peter K.
    May 7, 2013 at 0:52
  • Oh right. Sorry my downvote is locked :/ May 7, 2013 at 1:29
  • @MarkCidade What does a locked downvote mean? Are some downvotes not locked? Feel free to upvote one of my other answers as recompense! :-( Thank you Peter K
    – Mynamite
    May 7, 2013 at 22:54
  • You have a grace period of a few minutes to change your vote and then it is locked until the post is edited again. May 9, 2013 at 23:20

Gasp would be most apt, I reckon.

  • 1
    I won't be mean and retaliate for your down vote. I think gasp is a good answer too.
    – Mynamite
    May 7, 2013 at 22:56

I think "suck" is the single word that most effectively and consistently implies the meaning you're looking for. "Gulp" to me suggests swallowing, and not with tremendous force. And although "gasp" is close, your intended meaning seems to imply some intention to make the action very powerful; "suck" accomplishes this, whereas "gasp" is typically used for describing a surprised or shocked reaction, which is slightly different, especially given that it is usually involuntary.

But let me add this: In colloquial speech, two more options present themselves. Although they do not express exactly what you are looking for they might work well for you if the context is right. You can say "vacuum" ("he vaccumed up the noodles all at once"), and the jargon/slang form of this is "hoover," as in "he hoovered that pizza like there's no tomorrow." Admittedly, these terms usually relate more to eating than to inhaling, but since their explicit meaning is a forceful intake of air, I'm simply putting them out there for your consideration.

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