as·​phyx·​ia | \ as-ˈfik-sē-ə How to pronounce asphyxia (audio) , 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 Both participated in the 12-hour exorcism in a small, makeshift Pentecostal church in San Jose called Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas in which the child, Arely Naomi Proctor, was smothered and strangled until dying of asphyxia, prosecutors said. Fox News, 14 May 2022 The Alaska State Medical Examiner Office determined the death was due to asphyxia, ruling out sudden infant death syndrome. Hope Hodge Seck, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Feb. 2022 Other bills include a duty-to-intercede requirement and prohibitions against techniques that involve substantial risk of positional asphyxia. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 May 2021 Police surgeon Bill Smock took the stand several days later to testify that Floyd died of positional asphyxia. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 14 Apr. 2021 Stiger testified the dangers of positional asphyxia have been known in law enforcement for at least 20 years. Ray Sanchez And Aaron Cooper, CNN, 7 Apr. 2021 Stiger testified that the risks of positional asphyxia are well-established and that even without Chauvin's body weight, Floyd would have been in danger. Chao Xiong, Star Tribune, 7 Apr. 2021 Systrom testified that Floyd died from asphyxia caused by Chauvin's knee on his neck and being restrained with his chest to the ground and his hands behind his back, impeding his ability to draw in enough air to breathe. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 14 Feb. 2022 Medical examiners determined Stoltzfoos died from asphyxia due to strangulation and suffocation, with a knife wound to the neck serving as a contributing factor. Chris Harris,, 23 July 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for asphyxia

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The first known use of asphyxia was in 1778

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Last Updated

26 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Asphyxia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for asphyxia


as·​phyx·​ia | \ as-ˈfik-sē-ə, əs- How to pronounce asphyxia (audio) \

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 How to pronounce asphyxia (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on asphyxia

Nglish: Translation of asphyxia for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of asphyxia for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about asphyxia


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