[ suhf-uh-key-shuhn ]


  1. the act of killing by preventing air from getting to the blood through the lungs or gills; strangulation:

    A crushing neck injury resulted in the child’s suffocation.

  2. difficulty breathing or inability to breathe, or any act that causes this:

    One protestor endured temporary suffocation from tear gas.

  3. the act of making someone uncomfortable, or the fact of becoming uncomfortable, through lack of fresh air:

    Every noon, the market was crowded; but on Sundays, it was crowded to the point of suffocation.

  4. the act or practice of thwarting someone’s self-expression, freedom, independence, etc.:

    Under the military regime there was so much suffocation of the media—they even burned down news offices.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of suffocation1

First recorded in 1570–80; from Latin suffōcātiōn-, stem of suffōcātiō, “a choking, stifling”; suffocate ( def ), -ion ( def )

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Example Sentences

The result is a garment that is rough to the touch and does not yield, further contributing to the feeling of confinement and suffocation.

When lockdown began, her 500-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn felt suffocating—and her search expanded.

From Fortune

By the time the 65-year-old maneuvered his car into the clinic’s driveway, he was nearly suffocating from the disease.

The fumes can build up and suffocate people if there’s not enough ventilation, which could make transporting and storing vaccines cooled with dry ice a problem.

Fish and other lake dwellers may die from suffocation, as they have in other places, such as Lake Erie in North America.

A coroner ruled that she had died from suffocation or strangulation.

Videos show food lines bulging with tiny bodies pressed together so tightly you worry as much about suffocation as starvation.

Crowded it was almost to suffocation, for 1900 was the Great Exhibition year, and all the world and his wife were there.

But why not think of it when I was dying of suffocation; when the air was filled with gnats, and my bed with bugs?

He had breathed that thickness for a long time, but he got a fresh sense of suffocation now.

By this time the torch should have filled the place to suffocation.

Suffocation awaited me inside, gnats and mosquitoes outside.