as·​phyx·​i·​ate | \ as-ˈfik-sē-ˌāt How to pronounce asphyxiate (audio) , əs- \
asphyxiated; asphyxiating

Definition of asphyxiate

transitive verb

: to cause asphyxia in : to kill, suspend animation in, or make unconscious through want of adequate oxygen, presence of noxious agents, or other obstruction to normal breathing The murder victim was asphyxiated.

intransitive verb

: to become asphyxiated … ended in several deaths, including that of a … secretary who asphyxiated during a smoke bombing.— Robert I. Friedman

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Examples of asphyxiate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web How did being kneed cause George Floyd to asphyxiate? Molly Longman,, "Autopsy Says George Floyd Died Of Mechanical Asphyxia. What Does That Mean?," 2 June 2020 Iran’s traumatic history folds in on itself here until it is almost asphyxiated. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "It’s time we looked at Iran through the same lens as its best photographers," 15 Jan. 2020 Elsewhere in New South Wales, Silva and Doyle found large, dead fish that appeared to have asphyxiated, their gills blackened and clogged with ash. Adam Welz, Wired, "Fallout from Australia’s Huge Wildfires Is Choking Rivers," 21 Mar. 2020 Her killer wrapped duct tape around her face, causing her to asphyxiate. Fox News, "DNA ties California man to decades-old cold case murder, sexual assaults: police," 6 Oct. 2019 The smell is alive and dead, asphyxiating and alluring all at once., "For three generations, a dim alley in Bangkok’s Chinatown was home to a rice porridge stand opened by an immigrant from southern China. Then, in 2017, the street stall was included in Michelin’s Bangkok edition.," 15 Dec. 2019 Police said she was abducted, raped and asphyxiated and her dead body then set alight on the outskirts of Hyderabad. NBC News, "Indian police kill four men suspected of vet's rape and murder, drawing cheers," 6 Dec. 2019 Denny, the decision said, then placed Day on his side to prevent him from asphyxiating by rolling onto his stomach. Crystal Hill, Indianapolis Star, "Teen told police he couldn't breathe. Officers aren't liable for his death, court says," 28 Jan. 2020 Many of the victims swept up by the eruption were long thought to have died by asphyxiating on ashes and toxic gases. National Geographic, "Vesuvius eruption baked some people to death—and turned one brain to glass," 23 Jan. 2020

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

1836, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for asphyxiate

see asphyxia

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Time Traveler for asphyxiate

Time Traveler

The first known use of asphyxiate was in 1836

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Statistics for asphyxiate

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Asphyxiate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for asphyxiate


as·​phyx·​i·​ate | \ as-ˈfik-sē-ˌāt How to pronounce asphyxiate (audio) \
asphyxiated; asphyxiating

Kids Definition of asphyxiate

: to cause (as a person) to become unconscious or die by cutting off the normal taking in of oxygen whether by blocking breathing or by replacing the oxygen of the air with another gas


as·​phyx·​i·​ate | \ -sē-ˌāt How to pronounce asphyxiate (audio) \
asphyxiated; asphyxiating

Medical Definition of asphyxiate

transitive verb

: to cause asphyxia in also : to kill or make unconscious through inadequate oxygen, presence of noxious agents, or other obstruction to normal breathing

Other Words from asphyxiate

asphyxiation \ -​ˌfik-​sē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce asphyxiation (audio) \ noun
asphyxiator \ -​ˈfik-​sē-​ˌāt-​ər How to pronounce asphyxiator (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on asphyxiate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for asphyxiate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with asphyxiate

Spanish Central: Translation of asphyxiate

Nglish: Translation of asphyxiate for Spanish Speakers

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