[ suhf-uh-keyt ]
See synonyms for: suffocatesuffocatedsuffocating on

verb (used with object),suf·fo·cat·ed, suf·fo·cat·ing.
  1. to kill by preventing the access of air to the blood through the lungs or analogous organs, as gills; strangle.

  2. to impede the respiration of.

  1. to discomfort by a lack of fresh or cool air.

  2. to overcome or extinguish; suppress.

verb (used without object),suf·fo·cat·ed, suf·fo·cat·ing.
  1. to become suffocated; stifle; smother.

  2. to be uncomfortable due to a lack of fresh or cool air.

Origin of suffocate

First recorded in 1520–30; from Latin suffōcātus (past participle of suffōcāre “to choke, stifle”), equivalent to suf-suf- + -fōc- (combining form of fauc-, stem of faucēs “throat”) + -ātus -ate1

Other words from suffocate

  • suf·fo·cat·ing·ly, adverb
  • suf·fo·ca·tion [suhf-uh-key-shuhn], /ˌsʌf əˈkeɪ ʃən/, noun
  • suf·fo·ca·tive, adjective
  • un·suf·fo·cat·ed, adjective
  • un·suf·fo·ca·tive, adjective

Words Nearby suffocate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use suffocate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for suffocate


/ (ˈsʌfəˌkeɪt) /

  1. to kill or be killed by the deprivation of oxygen, as by obstruction of the air passage or inhalation of noxious gases

  2. to block the air passages or have the air passages blocked

  1. to feel or cause to feel discomfort from heat and lack of air

Origin of suffocate

C16: from Latin suffōcāre, from sub- + faucēs throat

Derived forms of suffocate

  • suffocating, adjective
  • suffocatingly, adverb
  • suffocation, noun
  • suffocative, adjective

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