10 Good Onomatopoeia For Heavy Breathing

“Heavy breathing” is one of those things that we wish we could convey easier in creative writing. Luckily, that’s where onomatopoeia comes in. It might help to know words that describe the sound to make things easier. This article will share the best choices with you.

Which Words Can Describe Heavy Breathing Sounds?

There are many great options we can use as heavy breathing sounds. Here are some of the best ones you’ll have success with:

  • Huffing and puffing
  • Huff
  • Puff
  • Wheeze
  • Pant
  • Gasp
  • Gag
  • Sigh
  • Pffff
  • Hffff
Onomatopoeia For Heavy Breathing

The preferred version is “huffing and puffing.” It’s a great way to show that someone is breathing heavily and making the loud noises that might accompany it. We can use it to show that someone is taking large breaths (often with intention).

Huffing And Puffing

“Huffing and puffing” is the best way to describe someone’s heavy breathing. We can use the “huff” as the exhale and the “puff” as the inhale (or vice versa) to describe the two different volumes and noises that are coming out of somebody’s mouth.

Check out these examples to see how it works:

  • He kept huffing and puffing until he managed to blow the straw house down.
  • They were both huffing and puffing, but it wasn’t enough to concern me. I just moved away and continued working.
  • Stop huffing and puffing, please! I’m trying to concentrate now! All I can hear is you breathing next to me!


“Huff” is one of the parts of “huffing and puffing” from above. We can also use it on its own to show that someone is breathing deeply and needs some time before they can regain their composure. It mostly relates to physical exercise but can refer to any situation.

The definition of “huff,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to breathe loudly, esp. after physical exercise.”

Here are a couple of examples to help you:

  • I kept hearing him huff from the other room. It was really difficult for me to hold back my laughter.
  • I’ve never heard someone huff as loudly as her after an event like that!
  • You really shouldn’t be huffing so loudly after exercise! That shows how much you need help!


“Puff” is the companion word of “huff.” However, we can use it individually, just like we mentioned above. It works to show that someone has let out a series of heavy or exasperated breaths (which is often because they are not very fit and have just exercised).

The definition of “puff,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to breathe fast and with difficulty, usually because you have been exercising.”

Check out these examples to see how it works:

  • He kept puffing, and I started to get a bit nervous that he was in a lot of pain.
  • Why can’t I catch my breath? I’m puffing and puffing, but nothing seems to change! I’m really scared.
  • You should keep that puff to yourself. No one wants you to blow your hot breath in their faces at a time like this!


“Wheeze” works well to show that somebody is struggling with their breath. Usually, the wheeze comes from deep within their throats, and they don’t know how or why it happens. They also have to work through periods of heavy breathing just to regulate it again.

The definition of “wheeze,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to make a high, rough noise while breathing because of some breathing difficulty.”

These examples will help you to understand more about it:

  • The awful wheezing sound I kept hearing from him was unlike anything else I’d heard before!
  • Please stop wheezing! What if someone hears us in here? You know we’ll get in trouble.
  • I don’t know why he thought it was appropriate to wheeze in my classroom, so I kicked him out at once!


“Pant” is a good way to demonstrate the sound of heavy breathing. You might be familiar with the word if you have a dog since it’s the most common way to describe the noise that dogs make. However, humans can also do it uncontrollably when uncomfortable.

The definition of “pant,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to breathe quickly and loudly through your mouth, usually because you have been doing something very energetic.”

Here are a couple of examples to show you how it works:

  • My dog wouldn’t stop panting. I got really worried about him, but then I realized he was just a little hot in the sun!
  • You shouldn’t be panting like that! It’s actually really bad for your recovery, and your lungs will never find a way to regulate themselves.
  • Do you have to keep panting now? We finished exercising twenty minutes ago!


“Gasp” works well to show that someone simply cannot catch their breath. Often, when gasping, someone will open their mouth wide and try to take in as much air as possible. Sometimes, it feels like they can never refill their lungs, which could cause some panic.

The definition of “gasp,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to take a short, quick breath through the mouth, especially because of surprise, pain, or shock.”

Here are a couple of examples that might be useful to you:

  • She was gasping. I felt bad for not being able to do anything, but I really didn’t think there was much point sticking around.
  • He was absolutely gasping for breath after the football match! It shows that he’s not as fit as he used to be.
  • Stop gasping for a second, will you? I don’t know why you think you need to breathe like that!


“Gag” isn’t quite the same as some of the other words. It refers to a heavy breath that someone might take if they come across an intense and uncomfortable feeling in their throat. It’s related to vomiting, but it can refer to a simple and heavy breath in some cases.

The definition of “gag,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to experience the sudden uncomfortable feeling of tightness in the throat and stomach that makes you feel like you are going to vomit.”

Check out these examples to see how it can work:

  • I kept thinking that I was going to let out a gag that everyone would hear! I didn’t want that to happen to me.
  • He wants to apologize for gagging earlier, and he doesn’t know what came over him that possessed him to do that.
  • She kept gagging! I couldn’t hear myself think because of how loudly she was doing it all!


“Sigh” is a slightly more interesting one. It doesn’t always refer to heavy breathing, but it can do. When someone lets out a long and loud sigh, it often means they are bored or that they can’t figure something out and don’t know what their next move should be.

The definition of “sigh,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to breathe out slowly and noisily, expressing tiredness, sadness, pleasure, etc.”

Check out these examples to see how it works:

  • He sighed for a while before deciding on his next move. It didn’t look like he took the news well.
  • I knew I heard him let out a sigh. I almost wanted to embrace him, but I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable.
  • Did you have to sigh so loudly? You make it seem like you don’t even want to be a part of this group!


“Pffff” isn’t an official word. However, it’s a great choice for onomatopoeia when we’re presenting it with pictures (like in a comic book or graphic novel). It can show that someone is taking an exasperated breath, and it’s often loud enough for others to hear.

We can increase or decrease the number of “F’s” in the word “pfff” based on how long and drawn out we want the breath to be. This is the wonder of onomatopoeia and is what makes it so good to use for artistic mediums.

Check out these examples to see how to use it:

  • Pffff. I didn’t think you’d be able to do it, and now I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not getting it done.
  • Pfffff. I’m sorry, I didn’t know that you would be here, and now I look like an idiot!
  • Pffff! That’s really annoying! Maybe you can try again to see whether it would work for you?


“Hffff” is another onomatopoeia noise we might come across. Again, this one is most suitable for artistic mediums like comic books or graphic novels. You might use this combination of letters to show that someone is letting out a large and harsh exhale.

Here are a couple of examples to help you with it:

  • Hffff. I don’t want to hear any more from you, and I think it’s best that you leave.
  • Hffff! He wasn’t best pleased to hear that he wasn’t allowed to enter. Still, he turned on his heel and went home.
  • Hffff! How could you say those things to me? I don’t even know how to control my anger now!