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From Latin suffōcāre, from sub- (under, up to) + fōx (throat)


  • (verb) IPA(key): /ˈsʌfəkeɪt/
    • (file)
  • (adjective) IPA(key): /ˈsʌfəkət/


suffocate (third-person singular simple present suffocates, present participle suffocating, simple past and past participle suffocated)

  1. (ergative) To suffer, or cause someone to suffer, from severely reduced oxygen intake to the body.
    Open the hatch, he is suffocating in the airlock!
    • 2020 November 2, Jiu Xiao, “Chinese Communist Party Officials Push Anti-U.S. Propaganda While Sending Families to Live in the U.S.”, in Minghui[1]:
      It is because of freedom, one netizen replied: Like air, you may not realize its importance, but when suffocating, you would know how precious it is.
  2. (ergative) To die due to, or kill someone by means of, insufficient oxygen supply to the body.
    He suffocated his wife by holding a pillow over her head.
  3. (ergative, figuratively) To overwhelm, or be overwhelmed (by a person or issue), as though with oxygen deprivation.
    I'm suffocating under this huge workload.
    • 1962 April, “London Airport rail link”, in Modern Railways, page 222:
      If the trend to private cars continues, the more quickly will the road traffic suffocate itself, [...].
  4. (transitive) To destroy; to extinguish.
    to suffocate fire


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


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suffocate (comparative more suffocate, superlative most suffocate)

  1. (obsolete) Suffocated; choked.

Further reading[edit]





  1. second-person plural present active imperative of suffōcō