Aims: To investigate what African American adolescents with asthma and their caregivers understand by “wheeze”. Methods: Caregivers (n = 35) and adolescents (n = 35) were each asked to describe what they understood by “wheeze”. Respondents were also shown a video clip of an adolescent wheezing and asked: a) to describe the breathing of the adolescent in the video: and. b) whether the adolescent respondent's breathing had ever been similar to the video-presented symptoms. Results: Most caregivers described wheeze in terms of sound alone (61.8%) while the majority of adolescents described wheeze as something that is felt (55.8%). Few caregivers and adolescents (5.8% each) included “whistling” in their descriptions of “wheeze”. Most caregivers and adolescents used the word “wheeze” when describing the video clip, but nearly one-quarter of the caregivers and one-third of the adolescents felt that the adolescent's breathing was never similar to the video. Conclusion: Caregiver and adolescents descriptions of wheeze are different from each other and both may be different from clinical definitions of the term. Study findings have implications for the ways in which questions about “wheeze” are framed and interpreted.