\ 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 up The 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 up choked 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.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To sum it up, Kaley could hardly choke out more than a laugh and knee-slapping reaction for each outfit Andy resurfaced from the early 2000s. Rebecca Norris, Good Housekeeping, 6 May 2022 His victims choke on food, crash their cars, amputate their fingers in prams. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Apr. 2022 The trees choke out other plants, particularly in fallow fields, or empty tracts of land seen as future forests. Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY, 18 Apr. 2022 Force-choke his own wife, and then, perhaps worst of all, attempt to defeat someone on higher ground. Dalton Ross,, 12 Apr. 2022 Game days often choke the nearby neighborhoods of Solano Canyon, Chinatown and Echo Park. Rachel Urangastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar. 2022 In addition to providing fuel for fires, these invasive species choke out the forest’s natural ecosystem and block larger animals like deer and elk from freely passing through. Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 14 Mar. 2022 Those departures, combined with the plunging value of the ruble, threaten to choke Russia's economy and deprive Russians of crucial foreign goods such as cars, cellphones, clothing and food. Allison Morrow, CNN, 2 Mar. 2022 The Fed is treading a tightrope, needing to raise rates enough to curb inflation but not by so much as to choke the economy into a recession. Yuri Kageyama, ajc, 1 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ultimately, the dollar is the choke-point that makes U.S. sanctions effective. James T. Areddy, WSJ, 3 May 2022 There was the split finger and the choke change, which helped Trevor Hoffman to the Hall of Fame. John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Apr. 2022 One of the principal choke points behind low mission capability rates for US military aircraft has been insufficient inventories of spare parts. Oliver Wyman, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 And with no thorns or choke, paring them is a snap; getting to the heart of the matter involves just a few tugs of the outer leaves, a slice of the conical top, and a quick trim of the base. Naoki Nitta, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Feb. 2022 People counting, occupancy estimation, choke-point detection and other applications are helping retailers plan their stores more effectively. Fredrik Nilsson, Forbes, 27 Jan. 2022 Additionally, Brown did not strangle or choke Adams, according to police. Dory Jackson,, 15 Mar. 2022 The witness said on other occasions, Ray had struck him with a hammer, threatened him with a knife and put him in a choke-hold. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 10 Mar. 2022 More drivers had been returning to the roads as Covid-19 restrictions eased, but the nation’s capacity to refine gasoline remained below pre-pandemic levels, creating a choke on supply when demand was on the rise. Joseph De Avila And Omar Abdel-baqui, WSJ, 9 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near choke



choke back

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for choke

Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Choke.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for choke


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on choke

Nglish: Translation of choke for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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