Share this entry
suffocate Syllabification: suf·fo·cate
Pronunciation: /ˈsəfəˌkāt/

Definition of suffocate in English:


1Die or cause to die from lack of air or inability to breathe: [no object]: ten detainees suffocated in an airless police cell [with object]: she was suffocated by the fumes
More example sentences
  • The girls, aged three and four, were suffocated by fumes from the fire which started in the ground-floor flat of the three storey Victorian house in Osterley Road.
  • While climbing out of the window, his neck got stuck and it appears he was unable to breathe and suffocated.
  • Unable to surface to breathe, they suffocate and drown and are eventually washed onto the beaches along the coast here.
1.1Have or cause to have difficulty in breathing: [no object]: he was suffocating, his head jammed up against the back of the sofa [with object]: you’re suffocating me—I can scarcely breathe (as adjective suffocating) the suffocating heat
More example sentences
  • Caked in cracked dirt and seeping sweat, crawling on all fours, suffocating from the heat, and trying to avoid startled lizards and bats, I cannot help but feel that I am glad they widened the tunnels for us.
  • Have mercy on me for I am suffocated with this heat.
  • The heat had suddenly become unbearable; he thought he might suffocate at any moment.
1.2Feel or cause to feel trapped and oppressed: (as adjective suffocated) I felt suffocated by my marriage
More example sentences
  • Trapped, suffocating, and every other clichéd word one can look up in the thesaurus to describe being stranded in this small terraced island in the Pacific.
  • What Maryna is leaving behind is not obscurity but an oppressive, suffocating fame; not poverty but tiresome social privilege.
  • The courtyard was completely silent, as it had been earlier, but now the silence seemed oppressive, suffocating.


Example sentences
  • But a Spaniard in the works does not fully excuse the torpor and disinterest of England's overall performance, nor a tactical strategy so suffocatingly cautious, so wholly devoid of flair and spirit.
  • It's typical that his reputation in the suffocatingly highbrow environs of classical music is often that of a composer who's too simplistic or too ‘emotional’.
  • Again and again in recent months, judges have shown a willingness to throw out trials or grant appeals on grounds that appear suffocatingly narrow or excessively technical.
Pronunciation: /ˌsəfəˈkāSHən/
Example sentences
  • The victim would eventually die of exposure and suffocation.
  • A Yorkshire businessman died as a result of suffocation, it was revealed yesterday, but mystery still surrounds his death.
  • But the need to break clear from the suffocation of reverent togetherness is not just a matter of philosophical self-respect.


Late 15th century (earlier (late Middle English) as suffocation): from Latin suffocat- 'stifled', from the verb suffocare, from sub- 'below' + fauces 'throat'.

Definition of suffocate in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Related Words