as·​phyx·​ia | \as-ˈfik-sē-ə, əs-\

Definition of asphyxia 

1 : a lack of oxygen or excess of carbon dioxide in the body that results in unconsciousness and often death and is usually caused by interruption of breathing or inadequate oxygen supply

2 : the state of being stifled or suppressed As a patient in hospital I felt both anguish and asphyxia—the anguish of being confronted with dissolution, and asphyxia because I could not be heard.— Oliver Sacks

Examples of asphyxia in a Sentence

The cause of death was asphyxia.

Recent Examples on the Web

Officials later ruled the cause of the 40-year-old fashion designer's death as asphyxia and hanging. Saeed Ahmed, CNN, "Kate Spade is the 3rd high-profile designer in recent years to die by suicide," 5 June 2018 Wilson, who was trapped on the third floor, died of burns and asphyxia. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "Firefighters protect us. Who protects them?," 13 July 2018 The victims, eight of whom were younger than 18, suffered either asphyxia or trauma to the body as hundreds of clubgoers stampeded to escape the fumes. Nicole Winfield,, "Pope: Abortion is ‘white glove’ equivalent to Nazi crimes," 17 June 2018 Cvitanovich said the findings are consistent with compressional asphyxia, which will likely be cause of death at the end of the process. Tina Burnside And Darran Simon, CNN, "Death of black man during arrest in Louisiana ruled homicide," 14 May 2018 His death was ruled a homicide caused by asphyxia by strangulation, complicated by heroin intoxication, the paper reported. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "What we know about convicted Indiana killer and possible cannibal Kelly Cochran," 21 June 2018 There is no evidence of neck compression or asphyxia. Molly Sullivan, sacbee, "Meth overdose caused death of man in Sacramento police custody, autopsy finds," 21 June 2018 Ben Houchin An autopsy later revealed the baby died of asphyxia. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Nebraska mom allegedly got drunk, smothered 3-week-old in her sleep," 1 June 2018 His death was ruled a homicide caused by asphyxia by strangulation, complicated by heroin intoxication, according to attorneys. Becky Jacobs, Post-Tribune, "Hobart woman serving life sentence for boyfriend's death gets 65 years for husband's murder," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'asphyxia.' 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 asphyxia

1778, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for asphyxia

New Latin, from Greek, stopping of the pulse, from a- + sphyzein to throb

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Statistics for asphyxia

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for asphyxia

The first known use of asphyxia was in 1778

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English Language Learners Definition of asphyxia

medical : the state of not being able to breathe


as·​phyx·​ia | \as-ˈfik-sē-ə, əs- \

Medical Definition of asphyxia 

: a lack of oxygen or excess of carbon dioxide in the body that is usually caused by interruption of breathing and that causes unconsciousness — compare suffocation

Other Words from asphyxia

asphyxial \ -​sē-​əl \ adjective

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Comments on asphyxia

What made you want to look up asphyxia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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