To breathe in a gasping, strained way is to wheeze. You might not know you're allergic to cats until you walk into the house your friend shares with six felines and start to wheeze.

A particular raspy, whistling kind of breathing characterizes a wheeze. You might wheeze because you've got a bad cold, or because your asthma is acting up after that half marathon you just ran. It can be scary to wheeze sometimes, because it feels like you're not getting quite as much air as you need with each breath. Wheeze shares a Scandinavian root with the Old Norse hvoesa, "to hiss."

Definitions of wheeze
  1. noun
    breathing with a husky or whistling sound
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    type of:
    breathing, external respiration, respiration, ventilation
    the bodily process of inhalation and exhalation; the process of taking in oxygen from inhaled air and releasing carbon dioxide by exhalation
  2. verb
    breathe with difficulty
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    type of:
    breathe, respire, suspire, take a breath
    draw air into, and expel out of, the lungs
  3. noun
    (Briticism) a clever or amusing scheme or trick
    “a clever wheeze probably succeeded in neutralizing the German espionage threat”
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    type of:
    scheme, strategy
    an elaborate and systematic plan of action
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