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 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 But proponents say that the action could financially asphyxiate the regime by freezing the few foreign currency flows the economy still has and needs to import goods needed to prevent a collapse. Ian Talley, WSJ, 8 Oct. 2020 If the flow of blood was strangled, our baby would asphyxiate. Sarah Stewart Johnson, The New Yorker, 4 Oct. 2020 The Covid-19 pandemic is more likely to asphyxiate Black people than white people. Adam W. Gaffney, STAT, 15 Sep. 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

22 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Asphyxiate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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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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