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[as-fik-see-uh] /æsˈfɪk si ə/
noun, Pathology.
the extreme condition caused by lack of oxygen and excess of carbon dioxide in the blood, produced by interference with respiration or insufficient oxygen in the air; suffocation.
Origin of asphyxia
1700-10; < New Latin < Greek asphyxía a stopping of the pulse, equivalent to a- a-6 + sphýx(is) pulse + -ia -ia
Related forms
asphyxial, adjective
Can be confused
asphyxia, asphyxiation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for asphyxia


lack of oxygen in the blood due to restricted respiration; suffocation. If severe enough and prolonged, it causes death
Derived Forms
asphyxial, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from New Latin, from Greek asphuxia a stopping of the pulse, from a-1 + sphuxis pulse, from sphuzein to throb
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 asphyxia

1706, "stoppage of pulse," from Modern Latin, from Greek asphyxia "stopping of the pulse," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + sphyzein "to throb." The current sense of "suffocation" is from 1778, but it is a "curious infelicity of etymology" [OED] because victims of suffocation have a pulse for some time after breathing has stopped.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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asphyxia in Medicine

asphyxia as·phyx·i·a (ās-fĭk'sē-ə)
A condition in which an extreme decrease in the amount of oxygen in the body accompanied by an increase of carbon dioxide leads to loss of consciousness or death.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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asphyxia in Science
A condition characterized by an extreme decrease in the amount of oxygen in the body accompanied by an increase of carbon dioxide, caused by an an inability to breathe. Asphyxia usually results in loss of consciousness and sometimes death.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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