as·​phyx·​i·​ation | \ as-ˌfik-sē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce asphyxiation (audio) , əs- \

Definition of asphyxiation

: deprivation of oxygen that can result in unconsciousness and often death : an act of asphyxiating a person or animal or a state of asphyxia : suffocation The autopsy showed that the cause of death was asphyxiation. Pliny the Elder did not die of falling pumice, but of asphyxiation, as he breathed noxious fumes from the eruption.— Sidney Perkowitz Asphyxiation at birth caused permanent impairment of his nerve-signaling system …— Ann Geracimos In rats, mice, and rabbits ciguatera poison causes death by asphyxiation.— Kwang-ming Li

Examples of asphyxiation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The vast majority of the victims died of asphyxiation, choking to death on the thick clouds of noxious gas and ash. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists find evidence of neurons in glassy brain of Vesuvius victim," 5 Oct. 2020 Prude, a Black man, died of asphyxiation after officers pinned him to the ground while restraining him in an incident that bore resemblance to Floyd's death. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, "More than a dozen police chiefs faced backlash – and left – after George Floyd's death. Here's a list.," 10 Sep. 2020 Three victims were listed as having been killed by blunt force trauma, three more were listed as being killed in stabbings and two victims died as a result of asphyxiation. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "122 homicides: The sobering numbers behind Louisville's deadly, record-breaking year," 23 Sep. 2020 However, the coroner declared his cause of death to be asphyxiation from the hood along with other factors. Tasha Williams, The New Republic, "The American Horror of Hooding," 5 Sep. 2020 But a county autopsy report labeled Mr. Prude’s death a homicide caused by complications of asphyxiation in a prone position. Michael Wilson, New York Times, "Rochester Police Chief Resigns in Aftermath of Daniel Prude’s Death," 8 Sep. 2020 The Rochester medical examiner eventually ruled the death a homicide, apparently caused by asphyxiation during physical restraint. Mike Brake, National Review, "The Coming Police Crisis," 8 Sep. 2020 The medical examiner stated that Prude’s cause of death was asphyxiation from police restraining him. Elly Belle,, "Why These Protestors Led A Naked Sit-In Outside Of The Rochester Police Headquarters," 8 Sep. 2020 The city has been rocked by nightly protests in reaction to recently released police body-camera footage of the March arrest of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of asphyxiation a week later. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "NY assistant principal sparks outrage for screaming 'f--- the police' during Facebook Live," 7 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'asphyxiation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of asphyxiation

1829, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about asphyxiation

Time Traveler for asphyxiation

Time Traveler

The first known use of asphyxiation was in 1829

See more words from the same year

Statistics for asphyxiation

Last Updated

13 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Asphyxiation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on asphyxiation

Nglish: Translation of asphyxiation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of asphyxiation for Arabic Speakers

Comments on asphyxiation

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!