\ 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.

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Synonyms for choke

Synonyms: Verb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The men allegedly choked and punched Jones in the face while using racial epithets, Middlebrooks said. NBC News, "Brutal beating in Iowa should be investigated as hate crime, NAACP says," 21 May 2020 The screening includes questions about an abuser's prior use of weapons and access to guns, past instances of choking or strangulation, stalking, threats to a victim's life and recent job loss. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee is seeing a spike in homicides, and nearly half of them are related to domestic or family violence," 18 May 2020 His father, a recently laid-off truck driver for the film industry, briefly choked up and Jack bounded over to hug him. Pam Belluck, New York Times, "‘Straight-Up Fire’ in His Veins: Teen Battles New Covid Syndrome," 17 May 2020 Employment data due Thursday are forecast to show 10,000 positions were added in January, with the estimate weighed down by wildfires that devastated the east coast and left major cities choking on smoke. Alexandra Veroude,, "Australia’s Labor Participation Puzzle Holds the Key to Its Rate Outlook," 13 May 2020 The losses have been squeezing in on us in tightening circles of grief, choking those who’d lost the most before. Matt Thompson, The Atlantic, "Surviving This Pandemic Isn’t Enough," 10 May 2020 But our native honeybees aren’t prepared for these hornets, and can’t necessarily cook or choke their enemies to death. Sara Kiley Watson, Outdoor Life, "Murder Hornets are Coming (But Probably Not for You)," 6 May 2020 Abdel-Wahab found her district transformed into a decrepit sprawl of densely populated, illegally built concrete towers stretching for miles, the sewage systems decaying, the canals paved over or choked with garbage. Washington Post, "Lives Lost: Generous Egyptian grandma was family ‘jewel’," 6 May 2020 Turkey guns have had short barrels and tight chokes ever since. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, "The Turkey Gear Hall of Fame," 4 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There’s an extra-full choke at the end of their Benellis, all stoked with 3.5-inch No. Drew Palmer, Outdoor Life, "50 Hunter Stereotypes from Every State," 15 May 2020 Or bring it back to reality by meming it up with coronavirus Star Wars takes about how Kylo Ren wears a mask and doesn't visit his elderly mother, and Vader uses the Force choke while social distancing. David G. Allan, CNN, "May the Fourth be with you, always, even during the pandemic," 4 May 2020 Plus, the dog can't be tethered by a choke collar and rope can't be tied directly to the animal's neck. Kaitlin Lange, Indianapolis Star, "Carmel City Council may strengthen animal welfare laws. Here's how it could impact you.," 17 Feb. 2020 But the match would turn, as matches do, multiple times — with dropkicks, body slams, spins, flips, leaps, chokes, gouges, a couple of moves that are indescribable in a family newspaper, and improbable recoveries. Washington Post, "Inside the world of micro wrestlers living their dreams," 1 Mar. 2020 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

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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Time Traveler for choke

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for choke

Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Choke.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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

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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

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