late 14c., gaspen, "open the mouth wide; exhale," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old Norse geispa "to yawn," or its Danish cognate gispe "gasp," which probably are related to Old Norse gapa "open the mouth wide" (see gap (n.)). Related: Gasped; gasping.
1570s, from gasp (v.). Earliest attested use is in the phrase last gasp "final breath before dying." To gasp up the ghost "die" is attested from 1530s.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to yawn, gape, be wide open."
It forms all or part of: chaos; chasm; dehiscence; gap; gasp; gawp; hiatus; yawn.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vijihite "to gape, be ajar;" Greek khainein, Latin hiare "to yawn, gape;" Old Church Slavonic zinoti "to open (one's mouth);" Russian razinut', Serbo-Croatian zinuti, Lithuanian žioju, žioti, Czech zivati "to yawn;" Old English ginian, gionian "open the mouth wide, yawn, gape," Old Norse gina "to yawn," Dutch geeuwen, Old High German ginen "to be wide open," German gähnen "to yawn."
"laugh in a half-suppressed way," 1690s, possibly of imitative origin; it is similar to Dutch snikken "to gasp, sob;" also compare the horse's nicker. Related: Snickered; snickering.
"divination by smoke," c. 1600, with -mancy "divination by means of" + Latinized form of Greek kapnos "smoke," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps a non-Indo-European substrate word that also produced Lithuanian kvapas "breath, smell," kvepiu, kvėpti "to gasp, breathe," Latvian kvept "to smoke, smell," and perhaps Latin vapor.
mid-14c., panten, "breathe hard or rapidly," perhaps a shortening of Old French pantaisier "gasp, puff, pant, be out of breath, be in distress" (12c.), which is probably from Vulgar Latin *pantasiare "be oppressed with a nightmare, struggle for breathing during a nightmare," literally "to have visions," from Greek phantasioun "have or form images, subject to hallucinations," from phantasia "appearance, image, fantasy" (from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine"). Related: Panted; panting.
Old English deor "wild animal, beast, any wild quadruped," in early Middle English also used of ants and fish, from Proto-Germanic *deuzam, the general Germanic word for "animal" (as opposed to man), but often restricted to "wild animal" (source also of Old Frisian diar, Dutch dier, Old Norse dyr, Old High German tior, German Tier "animal," Gothic dius "wild animal," also see reindeer).
This is perhaps from PIE *dheusom "creature that breathes," from root *dheu- (1) "cloud, breath" (source also of Lithuanian dusti "gasp," dvėsti "gasp, perish;" Old Church Slavonic dychati "breathe"). For possible prehistoric sense development, compare Latin animal from anima "breath").
The sense specialization to a specific animal began in Old English (the usual Old English word for what we now call a deer was heorot; see hart), was common by 15c., and is now complete. It happened probably via hunting, deer being the favorite animal of the chase (compare Sanskrit mrga- "wild animal," used especially for "deer").
Deer-lick "salty spot where deer come to lick," is attested by 1778, in an American context. The deer-mouse (1840) is so called for its agility.
c. 1300, transitive, "to stop the breath by preventing air from entering the windpipe;" late 14c., "to make to suffocate, deprive of the power of drawing breath," of persons as well as swallowed objects; a shortening of acheken (c. 1200), from Old English aceocian "to choke, suffocate," probably from root of ceoke "jaw, cheek" (see cheek (n.)), with intensive a-.
Intransitive sense from c. 1400. Meaning "gasp for breath" is from early 15c. Figurative use from c. 1400, in early use often with reference to weeds stifling the growth of useful plants (a Biblical image). Meaning "to fail in the clutch" is attested by 1976, American English. Related: Choked; choking.
The North American choke-cherry (1785) supposedly was so called for its astringent qualities: compare choke-apple "crab-apple" (1610s); and choke-pear (1530s) "kind of pear with an astringent taste" (also with a figurative sense, defined by Johnson as "Any aspersion or sarcasm, by which another person is put to silence)." Choked up "overcome with emotion and unable to speak" is attested by 1896. The baseball batting sense is by 1907.