early 15c. (transitive), "deprive of air, choke, kill by preventing access of air to the lungs," also figurative, "stifle, smother, extinguish," from Latin suffocatus, past participle of suffocare "to choke" (see suffocation). Intransitive use, "become choked, stifled, or smothered," is from 1702. Related: Suffocated; suffocating.
updated on December 27, 2013