\ 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.

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Synonyms for choke

Synonyms: Verb

garrote (or garotte), strangle, suffocate, throttle

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Examples of choke in a Sentence


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

For both these and rubber toys, make sure to buy an appropriate size toy; larger dogs have been known to swallow or choke on small toys. Texas A&m University, Houston Chronicle, "Pet Talk: How to ‘chews’ the best dog chew toys," 9 Sep. 2019 The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said the 27-year-old died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body. CBS News, "MLB and player's union to discuss opioid testing after Tyler Skaggs death," 7 Sep. 2019 But the lungs are choking on smoke—the Earth has gone emphysemic—and the leaders most in a position to fix things are adding tinder to the flames. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "The Amazon Fires, From an Extraterrestrial Perspective," 6 Sep. 2019 Galiya Gubaidulina said, choking on tears after the hearing. Washington Post, "Russian crackdown on protesters seen as intimidation tactic," 3 Sep. 2019 Authorities in North Carolina will not file criminal charges in the death of a 10-month-old boy who choked on a pine cone at day care and died. San Diego Union-Tribune, "No criminal charges in death of baby who choked on pine cone," 26 Aug. 2019 The building was a hulking concrete and brick shell choked with vines, its interior walls thrown together by the many resident architecture students. Summer Block, Longreads, "Better Late," 23 Aug. 2019 Previous SlideNext Slide The vast majority of people in Pompeii and Herculaneum—the cities hardest hit—perished from asphyxiation, choking on the thick clouds of noxious gas and ash. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists discovered an invaluable cache of ritual artifacts at Pompeii," 14 Aug. 2019 The public only hears about birds choking on plastic or dying with stomachs stuffed with plastics, said Savoca, but the reality is that most only eat a few pieces. Stephen Leahy, National Geographic, "Seabirds that eat plastic—and live—have major health problems," 2 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Diaz has the back again and looks for the late rear naked choke. Todd Martin, Los Angeles Times, "UFC 241 live updates: Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic," 17 Aug. 2019 Pantaleo was found guilty of using an improper choke-hold but not of intentionally restricting Garner's breathing. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "What can a tiny bone tell us about Jeffrey Epstein's death?," 10 Aug. 2019 Before that, one of the UFC’s most outspoken stars stopped the Irishman in a stunning, come-from-behind submission choke. Manouk Akopyan, Los Angeles Times, "Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic highlights UFC 241 from Anaheim," 16 Aug. 2019 Hill grabs a triangle choke but doesn’t have enough time to finish it. Todd Martin,, "UFC 238 live updates: Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes," 8 June 2019 Duba has added a choke tab and a kill switch to the dash of the truck. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Can a Lawnmower Engine Start a Dodge Ram? Sure, Why Not," 14 May 2019 Using a thin metal tablespoon, scrape out the choke from the heart., "A world tour of pickles in the Bay Area and how to make them," 26 July 2019 This was supposed to be when France finally cast off all those years of shackles of chokes in big games. Jonathan Tannenwald, Pro Soccer USA, "France laments painful World Cup loss to U.S. on its home soil," 29 June 2019 Here are the engineers, choke setters, hook tenders, fallers, even the lowly, but essential, whistle punks who signal for men to get out of range of the enormous, thrashing logs, great destroyers with diameters greater than a man’s height. Katherine A. Powers, WSJ, "‘Deep River’ Review: In the Heart of the Forest Primeval," 28 June 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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near choke





choke back



Statistics for choke

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for choke

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

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More Definitions for choke



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on choke

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with choke

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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