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[suhf-uh-keyt] /ˈsʌf əˌkeɪt/
verb (used with object), suffocated, suffocating.
to kill by preventing the access of air to the blood through the lungs or analogous organs, as gills; strangle.
to impede the respiration of.
to discomfort by a lack of fresh or cool air.
to overcome or extinguish; suppress.
verb (used without object), suffocated, suffocating.
to become suffocated; stifle; smother.
to be uncomfortable due to a lack of fresh or cool air.
Origin of suffocate
1520-30; < Latin suffōcātus (past participle of suffōcāre to choke, stifle), equivalent to suf- suf- + -fōc- (combining form of fauc-, stem of faucēs throat) + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
suffocatingly, adverb
suffocation, noun
suffocative, adjective
unsuffocated, adjective
unsuffocative, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for suffocation
  • Dozens died of suffocation in the airless, rolling ovens.
  • Direct exposure could cause frostbite and even suffocation.
  • Sharks are said to die of suffocation if they stop swimming, and the same is nearly true of information.
  • If you fall into a tree well headfirst, you run the risk of almost instant suffocation.
  • Panic attacks may mistakenly warn against suffocation.
  • Because this key member of the brain's fear circuitry can directly sense suffocation, and trigger feelings of terror.
  • Those that debauch the currency dilute the lifeblood of the economy until it dies of suffocation.
  • Political weakness, on a global scale, will result in the suffocation of the biosphere.
  • But that means the tortoises die from suffocation even as large chunks of their habitat are destroyed.
  • He said he is intrigued by the possibility that bees use suffocation as a weapon.
British Dictionary definitions for suffocation


to kill or be killed by the deprivation of oxygen, as by obstruction of the air passage or inhalation of noxious gases
to block the air passages or have the air passages blocked
to feel or cause to feel discomfort from heat and lack of air
Derived Forms
suffocating, adjective
suffocatingly, adverb
suffocation, noun
suffocative, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin suffōcāre, from sub- + faucēs throat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for suffocation

late 14c., from Middle French suffocation, from Latin suffocationem (nominative suffocatio) "a choking, stifling," from past participle stem of suffocare "suffocate," originally "to narrow up," from sub "up (from under)" (see sub-) + fauces (plural) "throat, narrow entrance."



early 15c., from Latin suffocatus, past participle of suffocare (see suffocation). Related: Suffocated; suffocating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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suffocation in Medicine

suffocate suf·fo·cate (sŭf'ə-kāt')
v. suf·fo·cat·ed, suf·fo·cat·ing, suf·fo·cates

  1. To impair the respiration of; asphyxiate.

  2. To suffer from lack of oxygen; to be unable to breathe.

suf'fo·ca'tion n.
suf'fo·ca'tive adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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