suffocate

verb
suf·​fo·​cate | \ ˈsə-fə-ˌkāt How to pronounce suffocate (audio) \
suffocated; suffocating

Definition of suffocate

transitive verb

1a(1) : to stop the respiration of (as by strangling or asphyxiation)
(2) : to deprive of oxygen
b : to make uncomfortable by want of fresh air
2 : to impede or stop the development of

intransitive verb

1 : to become suffocated:
a(1) : to die from being unable to breathe
(2) : to die from lack of oxygen
b : to be uncomfortable through lack of fresh air
2 : to become checked in development

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from suffocate

suffocation \ ˌsə-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce suffocation (audio) \ noun
suffocative \ ˈsə-​fə-​ˌkā-​tiv How to pronounce suffocative (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for suffocate

Synonyms

choke, smother, stifle, strangle

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of suffocate in a Sentence

Don't put that pillow over her face—she could suffocate. The poor dog could suffocate in the car on a hot day like this. The victims were found suffocated.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

As suffocating as Johns Hopkins was, Maryland was slightly better, holding the Blue Jays to almost six goals below their season average. Edward Lee, baltimoresun.com, "Johns Hopkins, Maryland aim to sustain defensive effort in Big Ten men’s lacrosse tournament," 2 May 2018 Underneath the mats, the dog was covered in sores where dirt was trapped, suffocating his skin. William Axford, Houston Chronicle, "'Rumor' just one of many dogs abandoned in Houston's 'Corridor of Cruelty'," 26 Apr. 2018 The group, which put the death toll at more than 40, said many residents were hiding in cellars, suffocating from poison gas. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Russia blames Israel for Syria air base attack after Pentagon denial," 9 Apr. 2018 An Iowa family of four found dead at their vacation condominium in a Mexican seaside resort suffocated from gas, according to autopsies, local authorities said on Saturday. Anchorage Daily News, "Officials say Iowa family of four found dead in Mexico killed by gas," 25 Mar. 2018 Like Thomas, Curry was sidelined on Dec. 25, when the Warriors suffocated the Cavs en route to a hard-fought 99-92 win. Chris Fedor, cleveland.com, "Isaiah Thomas 'excited' for first appearance in Cavaliers-Warriors rivalry after watching past meetings," 14 Jan. 2018 With its narrow passageways and suffocating sense of claustrophobia, the comparison is inevitable. Dylan Scott, Vox, "13 found-footage horror movies actually worth watching this Halloween," 19 Oct. 2018 Lawmakers eventually shelved the charges, but the monthslong process suffocated any chances of passing pension reform as this year’s election drew near. Jeffrey T. Lewis, WSJ, "Brazil’s President-Elect Calls On Government to Pass Pension Bill," 30 Oct. 2018 Naomi Osaka possesses a serve that tops 110 mph, as well as a range of suffocating strokes. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Naomi Osaka Gets the Last Word," 9 Sep. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for suffocate

borrowed from Latin suffōcātus, past participle of suffōcāre "to stifle, choke, deprive of air, squeeze together," from suf-, assimilated form of sub- sub- + -fōcāre, verbal derivative of fauc-, faux (ordinarily in plural faucēs) "upper part of the throat, pharynx, windpipe," of obscure origin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about suffocate

Share suffocate

Dictionary Entries near suffocate

sufflaminate

sufflate

sufflation

suffocate

suffocating

Suffolk

suffr

Statistics for suffocate

Last Updated

25 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for suffocate

The first known use of suffocate was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for suffocate

suffocate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of suffocate

: to die because you are unable to breathe
: to kill (someone) by making breathing impossible
: to be uncomfortable because there is not enough fresh air

suffocate

verb
suf·​fo·​cate | \ ˈsə-fə-ˌkāt How to pronounce suffocate (audio) \
suffocated; suffocating

Kids Definition of suffocate

1 : to kill by stopping the breathing of or by depriving of oxygen to breathe
2 : to die from being unable to breathe
3 : to be or become choked or smothered Weeds are suffocating the flowers we planted.
4 : to suffer from lack of fresh air

suffocate

verb
suf·​fo·​cate | \ ˈsəf-ə-ˌkāt How to pronounce suffocate (audio) \
suffocated; suffocating

Medical Definition of suffocate

transitive verb

1 : to stop the respiration of (as by strangling or asphyxiation)
2 : to deprive of oxygen

intransitive verb

: to die from being unable to breathe

Other Words from suffocate

suffocative \ -​ˌkāt-​iv How to pronounce suffocative (audio) \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on suffocate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to boil down or concentrate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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