Definition of suffocate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsəfəˌkāt/


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.


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

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: suf·fo·cate

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