c. 1300, transitive, "to stop the breath by preventing air from entering the windpipe;" late 14c., "to make to suffocate, deprive of the power of drawing breath," of persons as well as swallowed objects; a shortening of acheken (c. 1200), from Old English aceocian "to choke, suffocate," probably from root of ceoke "jaw, cheek" (see cheek (n.)), with intensive a-.
Intransitive sense from c. 1400. Meaning "gasp for breath" is from early 15c. Figurative use from c. 1400, in early use often with reference to weeds stifling the growth of useful plants (a Biblical image). Meaning "to fail in the clutch" is attested by 1976, American English. Related: Choked; choking.
The North American choke-cherry (1785) supposedly was so called for its astringent qualities: compare choke-apple "crab-apple" (1610s); and choke-pear (1530s) "kind of pear with an astringent taste" (also with a figurative sense, defined by Johnson as "Any aspersion or sarcasm, by which another person is put to silence)." Choked up "overcome with emotion and unable to speak" is attested by 1896. The baseball batting sense is by 1907.
early 15c., expiracioun, "vapor, breath," from Latin expirationem/exspirationem (nominative expiratio/exspiratio) "a breathing out, exhalation," noun of action from past-participle stem of expirare/exspirare "breathe out; breathe one's last" (see expire). Meaning "termination, end, close" is from 1560s.
c. 1400, exale, transitive, originally of liquids, perfumes, the breath of life, etc., from Old French exhaler (14c.) and directly from Latin exhalare "breathe out, evaporate," from ex "out" (see ex-) + halare "breathe." Of living things, "to breathe out," 1580s transitive; by 1837 intransitive. Related: Exhaled; exhaling.
late 14c., respiren, "breathe, draw breath," from Old French respirer (12c.) and directly from Latin respirare "breathe again, breathe in and out," from re- "again" (see re-) + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit (n.)). Formerly also "to rest or enjoy relief after toil or exertion" (1590s). Related: Respired; respiring.