late 13c., from Old French estrangler "choke, suffocate, throttle" (Modern French étrangler), from Latin strangulare "to choke, stifle, check, constrain," from Greek strangalan "to choke, twist," from strangale "a halter, cord, lace," related to strangos "twisted," from PIE root *strenk- "tight, narrow; pull tight, twist" (see string (n.)). Related: Strangled; strangling.
1540s, from Latin strangulationem (nominative strangulatio) "a choking, a suffocating," noun of action from past participle stem of strangulare (see strangle). The verb strangulate (1660s) probably is a back-formation from this. Related: Strangulated.
c. 1300, wirien, "to slay, kill or injure by biting and shaking the throat" (as a dog or wolf does), from Old English wyrgan "to strangle," from Proto-Germanic *wurgjan (source also of Middle Dutch worghen, Dutch worgen, Old High German wurgen, German würgen "to strangle," Old Norse virgill "rope"), from *wergh-, from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend."
The "strangle" sense generally was obsolete in English after c. 1600; the figurative meaning "to annoy, bother, vex" is by c. 1400. Meaning "to cause mental distress or trouble" is attested from 1822; intransitive sense of "to feel anxiety or mental trouble" is attested by 1860. Related: Worried; worrier; worrying.
late 14c., suffocacioun, "obstruction of breathing, choking," from Old French suffocation, suffocacion and directly from Latin suffocationem (nominative suffocatio) "a choking, stifling," noun of action from past-participle stem of suffocare "suffocate, throttle, stifle, strangle," originally "to narrow up," from sub "up (from under)" (see sub-) + fauces (plural) "throat, narrow entrance" (see faucet).
mid-15c., transitive, "to choke, strangle" (someone), possibly imitative and perhaps influenced by Old Norse gag-hals "with head thrown back." The sense of "stop a person's mouth by thrusting something into it" is first attested c. 1500. Intransitive sense of "to retch" is from 1707. Transitive meaning "cause to heave with nausea" is from 1945. Related: Gagged; gagging.
"strangle to death," c. 1400, probably from Middle English throte "throat" (see throat) + -le, perhaps a frequentative suffix (as in spark/sparkle), or a utensil suffix (as in handle), or simply to distinguish it from throat (v.), which in late 14c. was used to mean "cut the throat of, kill by cutting the throat." Related: Throttled; throttling.
Old English þrote (implied in þrotbolla "the Adam's apple, larynx," literally "throat boll"), related to þrutian "to swell," from Proto-Germanic *thrut- (source also of Old High German drozza, German Drossel, Old Saxon strota, Middle Dutch strote, Dutch strot "throat"), of uncertain origin. Italian strozza "throat," strozzare "to strangle" are Germanic loan-words. College slang for "competitive student" is 1970s, from cutthroat.
1540s, "lean person or animal, a raw-bones;" perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare Norwegian skragg "a lean person;" dialectal Swedish skraka "a great, dry tree; a long, lean man," skragge "old and torn thing," Danish skrog "hull of a ship; carcass," Icelandic skröggr, a nickname of the fox); perhaps from the same source as shrink.
By 1640s as "lean end of a cut of meat," hence "neck" (18c.) and thence a range of slang verbal terms for "to strangle, to hang; to kill" in 19c.-20c.