Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English choken (also cheken), from Old English ċēocian, āċēocian (to choke), probably derived from Old English ċēoce, ċēace (jaw, cheek), see cheek. Cognate with Icelandic kok (throat), koka (to gulp). See also achoke.

Alternative formsEdit


choke (third-person singular simple present chokes, present participle choking, simple past and past participle choked)

  1. (intransitive) To be unable to breathe because of obstruction of the windpipe (for instance food or other objects that go down the wrong way, or fumes or particles in the air that cause the throat to constrict).
    Ever since he choked on a bone, he has refused to eat fish.
    • 1919, Zane Grey, The Desert of Wheat, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, Chapter 6, p. 66,[1]
      Lenore began to choke with the fine dust and to feel her eyes smart and to see it settle on her hands and dress.
  2. (transitive) To prevent (someone) from breathing or talking by strangling or filling the windpipe.
    Synonyms: asphyxiate, strangle, suffocate, throttle
    The collar of this shirt is too tight; it’s choking me.
    • c. 1595, William Shakespeare, Richard II, Act II, Scene 1,[2]
      With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder:
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Luke 8.33,[3]
      Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.
    • 1918, Willa Cather, My Ántonia, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Chapter 15, pp. 282-283,[4]
      The man became insane; he stood over me, choking me with one fist and beating me in the face with the other []
  3. (transitive) To obstruct (a passage, etc.) by filling it up or clogging it.
    Synonyms: block up, bung up, clog, congest, jam, obstruct, stop up
    to choke a cave passage with boulders and mud
    • 1709, Joseph Addison, The Tatler, No. 120, 14 January, 1709, in The lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff Esq., London, 1712, Volume 3, p. 31,[5]
      This was a Passage, so rugged, so uneven, and choaked with so many Thorns and Briars, that it was a melancholy Spectacle to behold the Pains and Difficulties which both Sexes suffered who walked through it.
    • 1961, V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr Biswas, Penguin, 1992, Part 2, Chapter 4, p. 492,[6]
      But at Christmas the pavements were crowded with overdressed shoppers from the country, the streets choked with slow but strident traffic.
    • 1962 April, “London Airport rail link”, in Modern Railways, page 222:
      There have been predictions that within a few years all roads within a 17-mile radius of the Airport will be choked.
    • 2012, Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists, New York: Weinstein Books, Chapter 13, p. 168,[7]
      The waterfall is now a trickle, and the pool is choked with algae and drowned leaves and broken-off branches.
  4. (transitive) To hinder or check, as growth, expansion, progress, etc.; to kill (a plant by robbing it of nutrients); to extinguish (fire by robbing it of oxygen).
    Synonyms: choke out, stifle
    • c. 1590, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act III, Scene I,[8]
      Now ’tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
      Suffer them now, and they’ll o’ergrow the garden
      And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Matthew 13.7,[9]
      And some [seeds] fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
    • 1697, John Dryden (translator), “The Fifth Pastoral,” lines 55-56, in The Works of Virgil, London: Jacob Tonson, p. 22,[10]
      No fruitful Crop the sickly Fields return;
      But Oats and Darnel choak the rising Corn.
    • 1998, Nuruddin Farah, Secrets, Penguin, 1999, Chapter 3, p. 67,[11]
      I have cut maize stalks or green plants with which he means to choke the flames.
  5. (intransitive, colloquial) To perform badly at a crucial stage of a competition, especially when one appears to be clearly winning.
    He has a lot of talent, but he tends to choke under pressure.
  6. (transitive) To move one's fingers very close to the tip of a pencil, brush or other art tool.
    • 1973, Wayne Otto et al., Corrective and Remedial Teaching, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2nd edition, Chapter 13, p. 361,[13]
      A brief tryout will demonstrate that the modified grip does indeed make it difficult to “choke” the pencil or apply excessive pressure to the paper.
  7. (intransitive) To be checked or stopped, as if by choking
    Synonym: stick
  8. (transitive) To check or stop (an utterance or voice) as if by choking.
  9. (intransitive) To have a feeling of strangulation in one's throat as a result of passion or strong emotion.
    • 1894, Israel Zangwill, The King of Schnorrers, New York: Macmillan, Chapter 2, p. 48,[21]
      Grobstock began to choke with chagrin.
    • 2007, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Wizard of the Crow, New York: Knopf Doubleday, Book 3, p. 435,[22]
      Tajirika felt himself choking with anger. How dare those hussies interfere with his business?
  10. (transitive) To give (someone) a feeling of strangulation as a result of passion or strong emotion.
  11. (transitive) To say (something) with one’s throat constricted (due to emotion, for example).
    • 1901, Rudyard Kipling, Kim, Chapter 6,[27]
      ‘There is the padre!’ Kim choked as bare-headed Father Victor sailed down upon them from the veranda.
    • 1995, Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance, London: Faber and Faber, 1997, Epilogue, p. 583,[28]
      “The bastards!” he choked. “I hope they are all caught and hanged!”
  12. (transitive) To use the choke valve of (a vehicle) to adjust the air/fuel mixture in the engine.
  13. (intransitive, fluid mechanics, of a duct) To reach a condition of maximum flowrate, due to the flow at the narrowest point of the duct becoming sonic (Ma = 1).
  14. To make a choke, as in a cartridge, or in the bore of the barrel of a shotgun.


choke (plural chokes)

  1. A control on a carburetor to adjust the air/fuel mixture when the engine is cold.
  2. (sports) In wrestling, karate (etc.), a type of hold that can result in strangulation.
  3. A constriction at the muzzle end of a shotgun barrel which affects the spread of the shot.
  4. A partial or complete blockage (of boulders, mud, etc.) in a cave passage.
  5. (electronics) choking coil
  6. A major mistake at a crucial stage of a competition because one is nervous, especially when one is winning.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

Back-formation from artichoke.


choke (plural chokes)

  1. The mass of immature florets in the centre of the bud of an artichoke.
    • [2004, John Bridges; Bryan Curtis, A Gentleman at the Table, Thomas Nelson, →ISBN, page 60:
      Once all the leaves are gone, a hairy little island will remain in the middle of the artichoke. This is the “choke.” A gentleman uses his knife and fork to slice it away, uncovering the delicious artichoke “heart” underneath.]

Hawaiian CreoleEdit


From English choke.



  1. a lot, many
    Get choke peopo dea.
    There are a lot of people there.