In American English, I'm wondering if there is a shorter way to express this (literal) experience. The phrase seems so wordy to me and it's hard to believe that there isn't something more concise. As a native speaker, I have never heard of anything else and alternatives I've thought of such as "winded" or "lost my breath" have different connotations. I'm interested in any alternatives including neologisms and loan words.

  • It depends on whether you mean it literally or figuratively. Figuratively, it can be a thousand and one things, surely.
    – Lambie
    Dec 5, 2017 at 15:54
  • @Lambie, I mean literally. I just added that to the body of the question. Dec 5, 2017 at 16:00
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    @LeeLeon, I think "winded" is more of a British English term. To me, "winded" is not a sudden thing. I am winded after running, not after getting hit. Dec 5, 2017 at 16:15
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    "My diaphragm was paralyzed after being forcefully struck in the stomach, leaving me temporarily unable to breath." Hahaha! I think we might be stuck with "I got the wind knocked out of me." Dec 5, 2017 at 16:18
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    I would (UK English) use winded for the result of a punch or a tackle (rugby) - "he has been winded by his opponent" etc.
    – Damo
    Dec 5, 2017 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


It's hardly conversational, but the one-word term is phrenospasm, according to the Free Medical Dictionary available online. A blow to the chest can cause the diaphragm to go into spasm, making it difficult to draw a breath.

Chances are that unless you're speaking or writing to a medical professional, you're better off with "having the wind knocked out."

  • I married an ANP...over time one soaks up this stuff.
    – Rob_Ster
    Dec 5, 2017 at 16:24
  • Hmm, you can also have the wind knocked out of you when you get a punch in the stomach. Or when hit by something in the chest really hard (e.g. John Miller in Saving Private Ryan where he takes a bullet, although it is unclear if this is just a euphemism used by Captain Miller). Dec 5, 2017 at 20:33
  • @MaartenBodewes - Medically speaking, I'm told it's also related to hiccups.
    – Rob_Ster
    Dec 6, 2017 at 2:16
  • Another medical term, for the phenomenon is solar-plexus syndrome. it doesn't lend itself to acting as a verb, but it brings the term solar plexus to the arena. Could you say "The projectile struck me just below my ribs. Its mass and velocity were stopped by my solar plexus. Time took a time-out; I found I couldn't breathe. I couldn't even try to breathe." Jun 13 at 2:08

I have one small suggestion. It has nothing to do with wind being knocked out of one. But they might do for this kind of unpleasant feeling of sudden shock.

I felt pole-axed.

The Collins dictionary explains:-

“If someone is pole-axed, they are so surprised or shocked that they do not know what to say or do. [mainly British, informal] Sitting pole-axed on the sofa, Mahoney stared in astonishment at the spectacle before him.”

  • That’s clearly only a viable option for the metaphorical sense, though. This question is asking about the literal sense of having trouble breathing after someone punches you in the stomach. Dec 5, 2017 at 23:31
  • Well, yes. I took Robert to be looking for a metaphorical way to express the idea. In fact, of course, the use of the word ‘winded’ (which I think could be used in this context) is itself to some extent metaphorical. S a matter of a fact, I think there is nothing wrong with the expression he started out with. Except on Twitter, one word is not always best.
    – Tuffy
    Dec 6, 2017 at 0:22

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