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

Examples of asphyxiate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Joyland is a family saga, one that Sadiq uses to observe how gender norms constrict, and then asphyxiate, individuals. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 May 2022 The list is impressive, and one that analysts believe could well asphyxiate the Russian economy. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 10 Mar. 2022 When that didn't work, Linda stuffed a washcloth in his mouth as Mary Beth held his nose shut to asphyxiate him, charging documents state. Jeff Truesdell,, 23 July 2021 After the European Union embargoed the drugs necessary to make lethal injections in 2015, Alabama passed a law to use the electric chair, and Oklahoma authorized the use of nitrogen gas to asphyxiate inmates. Melissa Holzberg, Forbes, 7 May 2021 Either the explosion’s shock wave will crush your internal organs, or the hot ash and gas will asphyxiate you. New York Times, 18 Mar. 2021 However, several medical experts presented by the prosecution said the absence of bruising wasn't important, and the weight of Chauvin's knee and body was sufficient to asphyxiate him. Marlene Lenthang, ABC News, 14 Apr. 2021 With Dylan unconscious, Miriam tapes his mouth and nose shut and places a plastic bag over his head to asphyxiate him. Anne Cohen,, 25 Mar. 2021 Avalanche victims can asphyxiate from breathing in carbon dioxide from their own exhalation while buried beneath the snow. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 8 Mar. 2021 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of asphyxiate was in 1836

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Cite this Entry

“Asphyxiate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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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 asphyxiate (audio) \ noun
asphyxiator \ -​ˈfik-​sē-​ˌāt-​ər How to pronounce asphyxiate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on asphyxiate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for asphyxiate

Nglish: Translation of asphyxiate for Spanish Speakers


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