\ ˈchōk How to pronounce choke (audio) \
choked; choking

Definition of choke

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to check or block normal breathing of by compressing or obstructing the trachea or by poisoning or adulterating available air The unwary guard was choked to death by a prisoner.
2a : to check or hinder the growth, development, or activity of The flowers were choked by the weeds.
b : to obstruct by filling up or clogging Leaves choked the drain.
c : to fill completely : jam roads choked with traffic
3 : to enrich the fuel mixture of (a motor) by partially shutting off the air intake of the carburetor
4 : to grip (something, such as a baseball bat) some distance from the end of the handle usually used with upThe batter choked up the bat and cut down his swing.

intransitive verb

1 : to become choked in breathing He choked on a bone.
2a : to become obstructed or checked
b : to become or feel constricted (see constrict sense 1) in the throat (as from strong emotion) usually used with upchoked up and couldn't finish the speech
3 : to shorten one's grip especially on the handle of a bat usually used with up
4 : to lose one's composure and fail to perform effectively in a critical situation had a chance to win the game but he choked



Definition of choke (Entry 2 of 2)

1 [by folk etymology from artichoke] : the filamentous inedible center of an artichoke flower head broadly : an artichoke flower head
2 : something that obstructs passage or flow: such as
a : a valve for choking (see choke entry 1 sense 3) a gasoline engine
b : a constriction in an outlet (as of an oil well) that restricts flow
d : a constriction (such as a narrowing of the barrel or an attachment) at the muzzle (see muzzle entry 1 sense 3) of a shotgun that serves to limit the spread of shot
3 : the act of choking A few chokes dislodged the food in her throat.

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for choke

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of choke in a Sentence

Verb Chew your food well so you don't choke. We were choking on fumes. The thick smoke was choking me. The flowers were choked by the weeds.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Groupthink chokes cognitive diversity, but may emphasize symbolic diversity, resulting in low-substance, high-spin manifestos. Bill Rylance, Quartz at Work, "The problem with diversity targets in the workplace," 10 Mar. 2020 Smoke and flames choked the air, but Stratton saw someone moving on a smaller ship that had been tethered to the Arizona. Shaun Mckinnon, azcentral, "Donald Stratton, one of the last survivors of the USS Arizona, dies at 97," 16 Feb. 2020 Tinsel can pose as a choking hazard or get stuck in cats' intestines if ingested. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "People Are Sharing the Best Photos of Their Cats Playing in Christmas Trees," 20 Dec. 2019 But the cost to Palestinians of ongoing settlement expansion is on stark display less than ten miles north, where the town of Bethlehem is being slowly choked by military checkpoints and is unable to grow because of the looming separation barrier. David Degner, Smithsonian, "Two Tour Guides—One Israeli, One Palestinian—Offer a New Way to See the Holy Land," 9 July 2019 Bell told police his sister was shoving, choking and punching him in the head. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brother admitted killing sister and her girlfriend, criminal complaint says," 27 Feb. 2020 Dabney then admitted to strangling and choking the dog and trying to drown it in a toilet before placing the dog in an Amazon Prime box and throwing it in a dumpster outside, according to police. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky man tried to drown dog before throwing it in a dumpster, police say," 27 Feb. 2020 Day after day, night after night, Amtrak trains on the route fill with college students, business travelers, tourists, and travelers averse to airplanes or Chicago’s choked freeways. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Amtrak blames freight trains for passenger delays getting worse," 24 Feb. 2020 Trump clutched his throat and lolled his tongue in a somewhat graphic mime of choking. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Ahead of South Carolina, Donald Trump’s Debate Tips for Democrats," 24 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The o/u comes with three extended black Midas chokes (F, M, IC). Joe Genzel, Outdoor Life, "The Best New Shotguns from SHOT Show 2020," 21 Jan. 2020 Companies are beginning to realize there’s more to lose from offending consumers who are aware of how cheap plastic products feed global warming, choke oceans, kill wildlife and — more slowly — threaten us. Emily Chasan, Los Angeles Times, "Can U.S. consumers save paper recycling, one straw or TV dinner tray at a time?," 20 Oct. 2019 Max Meyer picks Washington State: Both teams suffered disappointing losses last weekend, including an all-time choke by the Cougs in Pullman. The Si Staff,, "College Football Week 5 Picks: Who Will Survive Conference Tests?," 26 Sep. 2019 Giles takes the back and has a rear naked choke at the close but Krause appears to be saved by the bell. Todd Martin, Los Angeles Times, "UFC 247 live updates: Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes," 8 Feb. 2020 When the going gets tough, the Nuggets choke when pulling the trigger on shots. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kiszla: Consider yourself lucky if you couldn’t watch telecast of Nikola Jokic and Nuggets coming up small in loss to Lakers," 3 Dec. 2019 The challenge at the moment is that classical algorithms often work well on smaller optimization problems but choke on larger ones. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "What problems can you solve on a quantum annealer?," 1 Oct. 2019 Ivanov pulls Tuivasa down late and looks for a guillotine choke before the round ends. Todd Martin,, "UFC 238 live updates: Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes," 8 June 2019 The win against the Ravens included just two catches on seven targets for Odell Beckham Jr. (not to mention choke-gate). Scott Patsko, cleveland, "Browns Winners and Losers: Big expectations and the exaggeration of Baker Mayfield’s demise," 25 Nov. 2019

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1736, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for choke

Verb and Noun

Middle English, alteration of achoken, from Old English ācēocian, from ā-, perfective prefix + cēoce, cēace jaw, cheek — more at abide, cheek

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about choke

Time Traveler for choke

Time Traveler

The first known use of choke was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for choke

Last Updated

16 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Choke.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for choke


How to pronounce choke (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of choke

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to become unable to breathe usually because something gets stuck in your throat or because the air is not good for breathing
: to cause (someone) to stop breathing by squeezing the throat
: to make (someone) unable to breathe in a normal way



English Language Learners Definition of choke (Entry 2 of 2)

: a part in a vehicle that controls the flow of air into the engine


\ ˈchōk How to pronounce choke (audio) \
choked; choking

Kids Definition of choke

1 : to keep from breathing in a normal way by cutting off the supply of air Many people were choked by thick smoke.
2 : to have the trachea blocked entirely or partly He nearly choked on a bone.
3 : to slow or prevent the growth or action of The flowers were choked by weeds.
4 : to block by clogging Leaves choked the sewer.
choke down
: to eat with difficulty I choked down a bite.
choke up
: to become too emotional to speak


\ ˈchōk How to pronounce choke (audio) \
choked; choking

Medical Definition of choke

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to keep from breathing in a normal way by compressing or obstructing the trachea or by poisoning or adulterating available air

intransitive verb

: to have the trachea blocked entirely or partly



Medical Definition of choke (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of choking
2 chokes plural : pulmonary manifestations of decompression sickness including shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough used with the

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on choke

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for choke

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with choke

Spanish Central: Translation of choke

Nglish: Translation of choke for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of choke for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about choke

Comments on choke

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!