• (RP) IPA: /t͡ʃəʊk/
    • (America) IPA: /t͡ʃoʊk/

choke (chokes, present participle choking; 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,
      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.
    • circa 1595 William Shakespeare, Richard II (play), Act II, Scene 1,
      With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder:
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Gospel of Luke 8.33,[]
      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,
      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, Tatler (1709 journal), No. 120, 14 January, 1709, in The lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff Esq., London, 1712, Volume 3, p. 31,
      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,
      But at Christmas the pavements were crowded with overdressed shoppers from the country, the streets choked with slow but strident traffic.
    • 2012, Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists, New York: Weinstein Books, Chapter 13, p. 168,
      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
    • circa 1590 William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act III, Scene I,
      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, Gospel of Matthew 13.7,
      And some [seeds] fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
    • 1697, John Dryden (translator), “The Fifth Eclogues,” lines 55-56, in The Works of Virgil, London: Jacob Tonson, p. 22,
      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,
      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 because one is nervous, especially when one is winning.
    He has a lot of talent, but he tends to choke under pressure.
    • 2019, “1 Point Away, Serena Williams Stunned by Karolína Plíšková at Australian Open,” The New York Times, 22 January, 2019,
      “I can’t say that I choked on those match points,” Williams said. “She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots.”
  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,
      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
    Synonyms: stick
    • 1820, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, Chapter 18,
      […] the words choked in his throat.
    • 1929, Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, New York: Modern Library, Part 3, Chapter 29, p. 413,
      Speech choked in Eugene’s throat.
  8. (transitive) To check or stop (an utterance or voice) as if by choking.
    • 1684, Aphra Behn, Love-Letters between a Noble-man and his Sister, London, “The Amours of Philander and Silvia,” p. 277,
      A hundred times fain he would have spoke, but still his rising Passion choak’d his Words;
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (novel), Chapter 14,
      […] tears choked the utterance of the dame de compagnie, and she buried her crushed affections and her poor old red nose in her pocket handkerchief.
    • 1896, H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, Chapter 9,
      At that I opened my mouth to speak, and found a hoarse phlegm choked my voice.
    • 1905, William John Locke, The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne, Chapter 20,
      Her laugh got choked by a sob.
    • 1967, Chaim Potok, The Chosen (Potok novel), New York: Ballantine, 1982, Chapter 18, p. 282,
      Danny let out a soft, half-choked, trembling moan.
  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,
      Grobstock began to choke with chagrin.
    • 2007, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Wizard of the Crow, New York: Knopf Doubleday, Book 3, p. 435,
      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.
    • 1712, Jonathan Swift, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity in The Works of J.S., Dublin: George Faulkner, 1735, Volume 1, p. 104,
      […] I am very sensible how much the Gentlemen of Wit and Pleasure are apt to murmur, and be choqued at the Sight of so many daggled-tail Parsons, who happen to fall in their Way, and offend their Eyes […]
    • 1773, Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer, London: F. Newbery, Act IV, p. 80,
      I shall run distracted. My rage choaks me.
    • 1850, Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, Chapter 13,
      And my remembrance of them both, choking me, I broke down […] and laid my face in my hands upon the table.
    • 1971, Iris Murdoch, An Accidental Man, New York: Viking, p. 42,
      Charlotte made herself stiff, controlling sudden choking emotion.
  11. (transitive) To say (something) with one’s throat constricted (due to emotion, for example).
    • 1901, Rudyard Kipling, Kim (novel), Chapter 6,
      ‘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,
      “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.
    • 1939, John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (novel), New York: Viking, 1962, Chapter 26, p. 492,
      The engine caught, spluttered, and roared as Tom choked the car delicately.
  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.
Translations Translations Noun

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. The mass of immature florets in the centre of the bud of an artichoke.
  6. (electronics) choking coil
  7. A major mistake at a crucial stage of a competition because one is nervous, especially when one is winning.
Translations Translations Translations

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