General English


  • verb to make someone stop breathing by cutting off the supply of air to his or her nose and mouth

Origin & History of “suffocate”

To suffocate someone is etymologically to press down their ‘throat’. The word comes from the past participle of Latin suffocāre, a compound verb formed from the prefix sub- ‘under, down’ and faucēs ‘throat’ (source of the English technical term faucal ‘of the throat’ (19th c.)). The origins of faucēs are not known.