as·phyx·i·ate | \-sē-ˌāt \
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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Other Words from asphyxiate

asphyxiation \as-ˌfik-sē-ˈā-shən, əs- \ noun

Examples of asphyxiate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Kyle Plush, 16, was asphyxiated after becoming pinned under the rear bench seat of his Honda Odyssey while reaching behind the seat for his tennis gear. Sharon Coolidge,, "Ohio auditor looking into Cincinnati's spending of 911 money," 25 Apr. 2018 City’s defense was completely exposed by a combination of asphyxiating high pressing and ultra fast transitions, as the trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane tore the City back line to shreds. Juan Pimiento,, "Man City suffer first loss, Real Madrid upset again and the best of the soccer weekend," 14 Jan. 2018 She was found dead on Monday, apparently having asphyxiated after building a small fire inside the hut to keep warm. Bhadra Sharma And Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, "In Rural Nepal, Menstruation Taboo Claims Another Victim," 10 Jan. 2018 The pregnant 16-year-old who died of an apparent suicide Thursday night at the children’s psychiatric center in Middletown had asphyxiated herself, the Department of Children and Families said Tuesday. Josh Kovner,, "Pregnant 16-Year-Old Died Of Asphyxiation At Children's Psychiatric Center, DCF Says," 3 July 2018 Saudi Arabia might have offered scant resistance, but for a 22-year-old to produce a performance so devastating under pressure so asphyxiating warrants the highest of praise. Rory Smith, New York Times, "For Russia, Five Goals and One Big Sigh of Relief," 14 June 2018 Her character is raped and commits suicide by asphyxiating herself in a kitchen oven. David Belcher, New York Times, "Patricia Morison, 103, Dies; Broadway’s First Kate to Be Kissed," 20 May 2018 Her character is raped and kills herself by asphyxiating herself in a kitchen oven. David Belcher,, "Patricia Morison, 103, Broadway’s first Kate to be kissed," 21 May 2018 But her death also released him, psychically, from the vanished world of the fin-de-siècle black élite, with its asphyxiating diktats. Tobi Haslett, The New Yorker, "The Man Who Led the Harlem Renaissance—and His Hidden Hungers," 11 May 2018

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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Statistics for asphyxiate

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for asphyxiate

The first known use of asphyxiate was in 1836

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More Definitions for asphyxiate


as·phyx·i·ate | \as-ˈfik-sē-ˌāt \
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 \
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 \ noun
asphyxiator \-ˈfik-sē-ˌāt-ər \ noun

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Comments on asphyxiate

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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