1. Something forced into or put over the mouth to prevent speaking or crying out.
2. An obstacle to or a censoring of free speech.
3. A device placed in the mouth to keep it open, as in dentistry.
a. A practical joke: played a gag on his roommates.
b. A comic effect or remark. See Synonyms at joke.
5. The act or an instance of gagging or choking.
v. gagged, gag·ging, gags
1. To prevent from speaking or crying out by using a gag.
2. To stop or restrain from exercising free speech: censorship laws aimed at gagging the press.
3. To cause to choke, retch, or undergo a regurgitative spasm.
4. To keep (the mouth) open by using a dental gag.
5. To block off or obstruct (a pipe or valve, for example).
1. To experience a regurgitative spasm in the throat, as from revulsion to a food or smell or in reflexive response to an introduced object.
2. To make jokes or quips: Your friends are always gagging around.
[From Middle English gaggen, to suffocate, perhaps of imitative origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.