6 Best Ways To Spell The Sound Of Gasping (Onomatopoeia)

Words can do a great job of describing things, but they don’t just stop there. Did you know that words can also describe sounds? They can, and this article will show you some of the best onomatopoeia (sound words) you can use to spell the sound of gasping and panting.

What Are The Best Ways To Spell The Sound Of Gasping?

Try out one of the following to see which one you think works best:

  • Gasp
  • Pant
  • Huff
  • Puff
  • Huh phoo
  • Whiff
gasping sound spell

The preferred version is “gasp.” While it also refers to the action of gasping, we can use it to specifically describe the sound. Some verbs are interchangeable as actions or sounds, and “gasp” is a great example that demonstrates how we can make this work.


“Gasp” works really well because people recognize it as a sound. It works because we know to associate it with being short of breath and trying to catch some air. The sound is similar, and if you asked someone to “gasp” right now, they’d recreate the sound with no issue.

Since many people gasp in different ways, there isn’t always one distinctive sound to highlight what it should be like. That’s why it’s sometimes more appropriate to use suitable words like “gasp” to show that someone is short of breath or surprised by something.

  • I couldn’t help but let out a gasp! I wasn’t aware that anyone else was in the room, and it really caught me off guard.
  • He gasped loudly! I could tell he was close by, but he didn’t want to say anything because it would have given him away.
  • Gasp! I didn’t think you had it in you! I must say, I’m quite impressed with your courage.


“Pant” works the same way as “gasp.” It is another verb form, and we can use it to refer to the exact sound that someone is making. Native speakers will recognize this word if you ask them to try and make a “panting” sound.

The only real difference between “pant” and “gasp” is the context. People can “gasp” when they are surprised, but they cannot “pant.” When you are out of breath, you can “pant” and “gasp.” “Pant” is just the more specific variation of the two.

If you need help understanding what “pant” might sound like, you can think about a dog. Dogs frequently “pant” when their tongue is hanging out of their mouth, and they’re trying to cool down. This is the same noise that people tend to make when they want to catch their breath.

  • I could hear him pant, but I couldn’t tell where he was coming from. I knew I needed to get out of there, though.
  • You shouldn’t pant like that! It’s what dogs do, and I don’t want people to think any less of you.
  • Are you panting right now? Pull yourself together and show them what you’re made of!


“Huff” is a great onomatopoeia word we can use. Starting the word with an “H” is a great example of how to pronounce a gasping sound. An “H” means we are forcing air out of our mouths sharply.

This is common whenever someone is gasping or panting. Therefore, it makes sense that “huff” would be a great choice when you’re trying to identify the exact sound or action someone might take when they are gasping.

  • Huff! I thought I’d have a chance to get through this without you, but here you are.
  • Huff! I didn’t need you here. I suppose I am surprised to see you, though I’d rather you watch my performance from the back.
  • Oh, don’t huff at me! I’m only trying to help! It’s not my fault if you can’t catch your breath.


“Puff” is a similar word to “huff,” but the pronunciation is different. When it comes to phonetic words, “P” sounds tend to be more forceful blasts of air through the lips. Therefore, a “puff” is a harsher sound than a “huff.”

We use “puff” more often when someone is short of breath and needs to catch up with it. “Huff” tends to work better when someone is surprised or disappointed with someone.

  • Puff! Puff! I need to exercise more. I don’t think I’ve ever been this out of breath in my life.
  • Puff! Puff! He needs to slow down if he wants me to keep up with him! How can he run like that?
  • I could hear her puffing, but I didn’t slow down to ask her how she was doing.

Huh Phoo

“Huh phoo” is a great example of onomatopoeia. We can combine the elements of “huff” and “puff” to create a sound like this to show what it looks like when someone is short on breath.

The best part about onomatopoeia is that we’re free to use it however we want. That means we can spell it, say it, and use it in ways that work best for us. If we wanted to include more “O’s” (“huh phoooooo”), we could do so, and it would imply the breaths are lengthy and labored.

“Huh” is the first sound made when someone catches their breath. It’s the sharp exhale that comes before the long, drawn-out inhale (which is the “phoo” portion of the phrase).

When combined, “huh phoo” offers one of the best ways to demonstrate gasping and panting.

  • Huh phoo! Huh phoo! I thought I was in trouble there, but I managed to escape them.
  • Huh phoo! Huh phoo! This treadmill almost killed me! That’s why I don’t come to the gym anymore.
  • Huh phoo! I thought I was alone here! You really frightened me!


“Whiff” is the last good choice we can use when referring to someone gasping. It’s another demonstration of how you can use onomatopoeia to create specific noises.

“Whiffs” tend to be sharper and quicker in sound. It’s best to associate a “whiff” with surprise more than anything else.

  • I heard him whiff at my news! Nothing would have satisfied me more than that sound.
  • Oh, quit whiffing for a second and hear me out! I’ve got some interesting things to say.
  • That was quite the whiff! Did you not expect to see me today?