AskDefine | Define strangle

Dictionary Definition



1 kill by squeezing the throat of so as to cut off the air; "he tried to strangle his opponent"; "A man in Boston has been strangling several dozen prostitutes" [syn: strangulate, throttle]
2 conceal or hide; "smother a yawn"; "muffle one's anger"; "strangle a yawn" [syn: smother, stifle, muffle, repress]
3 die from strangulation
4 prevent the progress or free movement of; "He was hampered in his efforts by the bad weather"; "the imperilist nation wanted to strangle the free trade between the two small countries" [syn: hamper, halter, cramp]
5 constrict (someone's) throat and keep from breathing [syn: choke]
6 struggle for breath; have insufficient oxygen intake; "he swallowed a fishbone and gagged" [syn: gag, choke, suffocate]

User Contributed Dictionary



From etyl fro estrangler, from etyl la strangulo


  1. To kill someone by strangulation (squeezing the throat so as to cut off the oxygen supply); to choke, suffocate or throttle.
    He strangled his wife and dissolved the body in acid.
  2. To stifle or suppress an action.
    She strangled a scream.
  3. To be killed by strangulation, or become strangled.
    The cat slipped from the branch and became strangled by its bell-colla.

Extensive Definition

Strangling is compression of the neck that leads to unconsciousness or death by causing an increasingly hypoxic state in the brain. Fatal strangling typically occurs in cases of violence, accidents, and as the mechanism of suicide in hangings. Strangling does not have to be fatal; limited or interrupted strangling is practiced in erotic asphyxia, in the choking game, and is an important technique in many combat sports and self-defense systems (see Chokehold).
Strangling can be divided into three general types according to the mechanism used:
  • Hanging — Suspension from a cord wound around the neck (see the separate article Hanging)
  • Ligature strangulation — Strangulation without suspension using some form of cord-like object
  • Manual strangulation — Strangulation using the fingers or other extremity


Strangling involves one or several mechanisms that interfere with the normal flow of oxygen into the brain:
Depending on the particular method of strangling, one or several of these typically occur in combination, but vascular obstruction is usually the main mechanism. Complete obstruction of blood flow to the brain is associated with irreversible neurological damage and death, but during strangulation there is still unimpeded blood flow in the vertebral arteries. Estimations have been made that significant occlusion of the carotid arteries and jugular veins occurs with a pressure of around 3.4 N/cm², while the trachea demands six times more at approximately 22 N/cm². As in all cases of strangulation, the rapidity of death can be affected by the susceptibility to carotid sinus stimulation. The reported time from application to unconsciousness varies from 7-14 seconds if effectively applied. chokeholds to one minute in some other cases, with death occurring minutes after unconsciousness. Even though the mechanism of strangulation is similar, it is usually distinguished from hanging by the strangling force being something other than the person's own bodyweight. Suicide by ligature strangulation requires that the constriction around the neck be held even after loss of consciousness, which can be accomplished with complicated knots.

Strangulation in popular culture

Strangulation has been a common theme in literature and films, especially in murder mysteries and horror films. It is usually a minor character that gets killed off in this manner.
In The Simpsons, when Homer finds out that his son, Bart has done or said something wrong or stupid, he yells, "Why you little—!" and strangles him in anger. Sometimes he does it for little to no reason at all.
In some of the Star Wars movies, the primary antagonist, Darth Vader, manually strangles his victims or uses The Force to do it with his mind.
Two notable strangulations occur in The Godfather:
  1. Early in the novel, shortly before Don Vito Corleone is attacked in front of his office, Luca Brasi visits Bruno Tattaglia and Sollozzo in a Tattaglia nightclub. Tattaglia distracts him with a drink and a cigarette, and Sollozzo pins Brasi's hand to the bar with a knife, then an unidentified murderer slips a garotte around Brasi's neck and pulls it tight.
  2. Near the end, after the climactic baptism scene with its multiple assassinations, Michael Corleone gives Carlo Rizzi a plane ticket and tells him to take a ride to the airport. After Carlo gets into the front seat, Peter Clemenza, in the back seat, says "Hello, Carlo," slips a garotte around his neck, and strangles him.
In both cases, Puzo notes the excretory consequences of strangulation: he states that "the sphincter" released "the body's waste" but does not specify which sphincter or what kind of waste. The movie omits this ugly detail and instead has Brasi's grimace and Rizzi kick through the windshield.
In the Jack The Ripper based 2001 film, From Hell, John Netley is killed by a garotte near the end of the movie, by one of his former cult colleagues.
In the soap opera The Young and The Restless, Ji Min Kim dies by strangulation.
In the Alfred Hitchcock movie Frenzy, the killer uses a necktie to strangle his victims.
The James Bond film The World is Not Enough features a very long sequence in which Pierce Brosnan's Bond is strangled by villainess Electra King in a highly ornate "antique garotte".


  • Ohlenkamp, Neil (2006) Judo Unleashed Basic reference on judo choking techniques. ISBN 0071475346.
strangle in Danish: Strangulation
strangle in Finnish: Kuristaminen
strangle in French: Strangulation
strangle in Polish: Zadzierzgnięcie
strangle in Portuguese: Estrangulamento
strangle in Russian: Странгуляция
strangle in Swedish: Strangulation

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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