Something stifling makes you feel suffocated. If your mother insists on accompanying you on your first date, that will probably feel stifling.

Stifle comes from the Middle English word stuffle, which means to kill by cutting off air. A really hot movie theater is stifling, as is an environment where you never get any space to yourself. This word can also be used as a noun to refer to the act of repressing or shutting something down, such as a dictator's stifling of popular protests. Either way, if something is stifling, it's preventing something else from living freely and fully.

Definitions of stifling
  1. adjective
    characterized by oppressive heat and humidity
    “the stifling atmosphere”
    synonyms: sulfurous, sulphurous, sultry
    used of physical heat; having a high or higher than desirable temperature or giving off heat or feeling or causing a sensation of heat or burning
  2. adjective
    causing one to feel inhibited or oppressed
    weighing heavily on the senses or spirit
  3. noun
    forceful prevention; putting down by power or authority
    “the stifling of all dissent”
    synonyms: crushing, quelling, suppression
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    severely repressive actions
    type of:
    bar, prevention
    the act of preventing
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