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

Just make sure not to suffocate the plants with them. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "20 Best Terrarium Plants for Every Type of Home," 4 Jan. 2019 Boas, which hail from Central and South America, use their large bodies to suffocate their prey before feasting on them. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Snake eats pigeon on busy London sidewalk as horrified crowd watches," 6 Aug. 2018 But the Neymar-obsession threatens to suffocate all else. Jonathan Wilson, SI.com, "Brazil Secures Its Win, but Neymar's Actions Remain a Lightning Rod," 22 June 2018 The strikes, led in partnership with Britain and France, hit Syria one week after reports of a horrific chemical attack in the town of Douma that led to the deaths of men, women and children, many of whom are believed to have suffocated. Oren Dorell, USA TODAY, "'Necessary and appropriate': How the world reacted to Syrian airstrikes," 14 Apr. 2018 The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense rescue organization said the victims appeared to have suffocated. Time, "Monitors Say 14 People Were Killed in a Missile Strike on a Syrian Air Base," 9 Apr. 2018 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

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

Dictionary Entries near suffocate

sufflaminate

sufflate

sufflation

suffocate

suffocating

Suffolk

suffr

Statistics for suffocate

Last Updated

22 Apr 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 move or proceed with twists and turns

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!