I was watching a film and there were subtitles "X panting" and "X gasping" in one episode several times. I couldn't figure out any difference in character's breathe depending on subtitle text so I looked into the dictionary (Meriam Webster). Both verbs indeed seem to be synonymous (when speaking of breathing):


  1. to catch the breath convulsively and audibly (as with shock)
  2. to breathe laboriously



  1. to breathe quickly, spasmodically, or in a labored manner
  2. to run panting
  3. to move with or make a throbbing or puffing sound

Is there any significant difference between these two words so that they are not interchangeable in certain cases?

  • In general, panting goes on for while, like a panting dog. A gasp can be once: He gasped in disbelief. You can't say: he panted in disbelief or surprise. He was panting from the physical effort.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


This is a video of panting.

This is a video of gasping.

Panting involves breathing in and out rapidly. Gasping is a quick breath in. I don't think they are interchangeable at all, although some people might use them that way.

You might gasp once because you're startled, or you might gasp repeatedly because you're having trouble breathing. You might pant because you've had some sort of exertion, like running, that makes your body want to get more oxygen into your bloodstream or you might pant because you are having trouble taking a full breath.

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