claus·​tro·​pho·​bia | \ ˌklȯ-strə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce claustrophobia (audio) \

Definition of claustrophobia

1 : abnormal dread of being in closed or narrow spaces
2 : a feeling of discomfort or discontent caused by being in a limiting or restrictive situation or environment While recovering in the hospital, she recognizes the claustrophobia of her working-class life, shared with a suffocatingly affectionate mother and a dud of a dad.— Barbara Tritel

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Other Words from claustrophobia

claustrophobe \ ˈklȯ-​strə-​ˌfōb How to pronounce claustrophobe (audio) \ noun

Examples of claustrophobia in a Sentence

She doesn't go in elevators because of her claustrophobia. the claustrophobia of small-town life

Recent Examples on the Web

This claustrophobia-inducing habitat is no match for Randall’s drive. Kelli Bender,, "Steve Irwin's Apprentice Jack Randall Crawls Through Narrow Cave With 12-Foot Python," 3 July 2019 So, more specifically, claustrophobia, panic and that type of thing. Alvin Chang, Vox, "Every time Ford and Kavanaugh answered the question — and didn't answer the question," 28 Sep. 2018 The desk, a thin shelf squeezed between the bed and the bathroom, creates a bit of claustrophobia because the space is so tight, and the headboard partly blocks the window view. Kathryn B. Creedy,, "TWA Hotel at JFK airport feels straight out of the '60s," 23 June 2019 Great fun for those with a sense of adventure, not for those who suffer from claustrophobia. Glasgow, USA TODAY, "Glasgow, Gateway to Scotland: Witness the beauty and history of these 15 majestic castles," 13 June 2019 As many as 5 percent of Americans may suffer from claustrophobia in some form, according to, and up to 13 percent of patients who received an MRI reported having a panic attack. Eric Pianin, Washington Post, "Claustrophobia can turn MRI into frightening experience," 11 Mar. 2018 The two windows at each row, and capacious overhead bins, will also combat claustrophobia. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "5 New Planes That Will Change the Way You Travel," 4 Sep. 2018 The claustrophobia was awful for the diggers working 9 feet below ground, in an oval 18 inches wide and 14 inches high. Daniel Ford, WSJ, "‘The Escape Artists’ Review: Keep Calm and Keep Shoveling," 27 Sep. 2018 Much of Laura Poitras’s Academy Award–winning film unfolds in a small, claustrophobia-inducing hotel room in Hong Kong. Vogue, "These Are the 66 Best Documentaries of All Time," 8 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'claustrophobia.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of claustrophobia

1879, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for claustrophobia

New Latin, from Latin claustrum + New Latin -phobia

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Statistics for claustrophobia

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for claustrophobia

The first known use of claustrophobia was in 1879

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English Language Learners Definition of claustrophobia

: a fear of being in closed or small spaces
: an unhappy or uncomfortable feeling caused by being in a situation that limits or restricts you


claus·​tro·​pho·​bia | \ ˌklȯ-strə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce claustrophobia (audio) \

Medical Definition of claustrophobia

: abnormal dread of being in closed or narrow spaces

More from Merriam-Webster on claustrophobia

Spanish Central: Translation of claustrophobia

Nglish: Translation of claustrophobia for Spanish Speakers

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