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Idioms about air

Origin of air

First recorded in 1150–1200; Middle English eir, from Old French air, from Latin āēr- (accusative āerem ), from Greek āer- (stem of āḗr ) “the lower atmosphere”; conflated with (especially for defs. 4, 5) French air, Old French aire “nature, character,” Latin ager “field” (cf. acre) and ārea “threshing floor, clearing, area ”; and with (for def. 7) French air, from Italian aria aria

synonym study for air

2. See wind1. 6. See manner1.


airlike, adjectiveun·aired, adjectivewell-aired, adjective


1. air , e'er, ere, heir2. air , er, err

Other definitions for air (2 of 4)

[ air ]
/ ɛər /

Obsolete. before; previously.

Origin of air

see origin at ere

Other definitions for air (3 of 4)



Other definitions for air (4 of 4)

[ ah-eer ]
/ ˈɑ ɪər /

a region in northern Niger, in the Sahara: low massif and oases. About 30,000 sq. mi. (77,700 sq. km).
Also called As·ben [ahs-ben] /ɑsˈbɛn/ .
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of air?

Air is the invisible mixture of gases that makes up the Earth’s atmosphere. This is what we mean when we talk about the air that we breathe. The word air is also used to refer to the appearance of something, as in an air of mystery. Air is used as a verb meaning to expose something to air, the public, or on a broadcast. The word air has many other senses, both as a noun and a verb.

Speaking scientifically, the word air refers to an invisible mixture of gases, including oxygen, nitrogen, and small amounts of many other gases. You are breathing air into your lungs right now as you read these words.

  • Real-life example: We are all surrounded by air. It is what makes up Earth’s atmosphere. The word air is also used generally to refer to any of the gases that can be found floating around us. For example, a balloon filled with air is most likely full of the carbon dioxide gas released from a person’s lungs.
  • Used in a sentence: Swimmers returned to the surface so she could get a breath of air. 

The terms air or the air is used generally to refer to the sky or open space outside.

  • Real-life example: Airplanes and helicopters are designed to fly in the air, meaning the empty space over the ground. Birds, bats, and insects also travel through this empty space.
  • Used in a sentence: The boy threw the ball into the air. 

Air is also used to describe a style or appearance that something or someone has. The plural airs is used when someone acts as though they are better than other people, often in the phrase put on airs.

  • Used in a sentence: The quiet man had an air of mystery about him. 

As a verb, air is used to variously mean exposing something to air, exposing something to the public as a whole, or to broadcast something, such as on TV, radio, or a webcast.

  • Real-life example: People will sometimes air a room by opening windows or air out laundry so the wind will blow smells off it. Gossip magazines and websites often air celebrity secrets or rumors. Television and radio stations air (broadcast) programs every day.
  • Used in a sentence: The angry citizens aired their complaints to the nervous mayor.

Where does air come from?

The first records of the word air come from the later 1100s. It ultimately comes from the Greek word aēr, meaning “the lower atmosphere.” Generally speaking, the lower part of the atmosphere is the part that we live in and contains the gaseous mixture of air that we breathe and feel as wind.

Based on its pronunciation, it’s possible for the word air to be confused with several similarly sounding words. The word heir refers to a person who will inherit property from someone else. The word err means to make a mistake or to be wrong. The word e’er is a contraction of ever. The word ere means before.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to air?

  • airlike (adjective)
  • unaired (adjective)
  • well-aired (adjective)

What are some synonyms for air?

What are some words that share a root or word element with air

What are some words that often get used in discussing air?

What are some words air may be commonly confused with in speech?

How is air used in real life?

Air is a common word with many different meanings. It’s most commonly used as a general way to refer to the mixture of oxygen and other gases that we breathe.



Try using air!

True or False?

Air consists of an invisible mixture of liquids that mostly contains nitrogen and oxygen.

How to use air in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for air (1 of 3)

/ (ɛə) /

See also airs

Word Origin for air

C13: via Old French and Latin from Greek aēr the lower atmosphere

British Dictionary definitions for air (2 of 3)


abbreviation for
All India Radio

British Dictionary definitions for air (3 of 3)

/ (ˈɑːɪə) /

a mountainous region of N central Niger, in the Sahara, rising to 1500 m (5000 ft): a former native kingdom. Area: about 77 700 sq km (30 000 sq miles)Also called: Azbine, Asben
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for air

[ âr ]

The colorless, odorless, tasteless mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth. Air consists of about 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen, with the remaining part made up mainly of argon, carbon dioxide, neon, helium, methane, and krypton in decreasing order of volume. Air also contains varying amounts of water vapor, particulate matter such as dust and soot, and chemical pollutants.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with air


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.