View synonyms for breath


[ breth ]


  1. the air inhaled and exhaled in respiration.
  2. respiration, especially as necessary to life.
  3. life; vitality.

    Synonyms: force, vigor, animation, spirit

  4. the ability to breathe easily and normally:

    She stopped to regain her breath.

  5. time to breathe; pause or respite:

    Give him a little breath.

  6. a single inhalation or respiration:

    He took a deep breath.

  7. the brief time required for a single respiration; a moment or instant:

    They gave it to her and took it away all in a breath.

  8. a slight suggestion, hint, or whisper:

    The breath of slander never touched her.

  9. a light current of air.
  10. Phonetics.
    1. the air drawn into or expelled from the lungs to provide the generative source for most speech sounds.
    2. the audible expiration generating voiceless speech sounds, as ( p ), ( k ), ( sh ), etc.
  11. moisture emitted in respiration, especially when condensed and visible.
  12. a trivial circumstance; trifle.
  13. an odorous exhalation, or the air impregnated by it.
  14. Obsolete. exhalation or vapor.


/ brɛθ /


  1. the intake and expulsion of air during respiration
  2. the air inhaled or exhaled during respiration
  3. a single respiration or inhalation of air, etc
  4. the vapour, heat, or odour of exhaled air

    his breath on the window melted the frost

  5. a slight gust of air
  6. a short pause or rest

    take a breath for five minutes

  7. a brief time

    it was done in a breath

  8. a suggestion or slight evidence; suspicion

    a breath of scandal

  9. a whisper or soft sound
  10. life, energy, or vitality

    the breath of new industry

  11. See voice
    phonetics the passage of air through the completely open glottis without vibration of the vocal cords, as in exhaling or pronouncing fricatives such as (f) or (h) or stops such as (p) or (k) Compare voice
  12. a breath of fresh air
    a breath of fresh air a refreshing change from what one is used to
  13. catch one's breath
    catch one's breath to rest until breathing is normal, esp after exertion
  14. hold one's breath
    hold one's breath to wait expectantly or anxiously
  15. in the same breath
    in the same breath done or said at the same time
  16. out of breath
    out of breath gasping for air after exertion
  17. save one's breath
    save one's breath to refrain from useless talk
  18. take one's breath away
    take one's breath away to overwhelm with surprise, etc
  19. under one's breath
    under one's breathbelow one's breath in a quiet voice or whisper

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Other Words From

  • inter·breath adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of breath1

First recorded before 900; Middle English breeth, breth, Old English brǣth “smell, exhalation”; akin to German Brodem “vapor, steam”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of breath1

Old English brǣth ; related to brǣdan to burn, Old High German brādam heat, breath

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. below / under one's breath, in a low voice or whisper; sotto voce:

    He protested under his breath because he was afraid to speak up.

  2. catch one's breath, to pause or rest before continuing an activity or beginning a new one; resume regular breathing:

    Let me catch my breath before I begin anything new.

  3. in the same breath, at virtually the same time; almost simultaneously:

    She lost her temper and apologized in the same breath.

  4. out of breath, exhausted or gasping for breath, in consequence of an effort; breathless:

    After climbing to the top of the tower, we were so out of breath that we had to sit down.

  5. save one's breath, to avoid futile talk or discussion:

    We were told to save our breath because the matter had already been decided.

  6. take away one's breath, to make one as if breathless with astonishment; surprise; stun: Also take one's breath away.

    The sheer beauty of the sea took away my breath.

More idioms and phrases containing breath

In addition to the idiom beginning with breath , also see catch one's breath ; hold one's breath ; in the same breath ; out of breath ; save one's breath ; take one's breath away ; under one's breath ; waste one's breath ; with bated breath .

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Example Sentences

If they have symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath or an abnormal heart beat, he says, they should see a doctor.

She told the Blade she only sleeps a few hours a night, she has no strength and walking a few feet leaves her out of breath.

Although one of the major problems they have to deal with is rescuing people who refuse to evacuate, under their breath they thanked us for saving these homes.

For example, people with type 2 diabetes are often overweight and have shortness of breath.

Alternative living, in my case vanlife, is a financial breath of fresh air.

In the next breath, however, he is decrying the press misinterpretation of his Diana script.

Throughout Christmas eve and day, the world is monitoring with bated breath.

He died in July after being grabbed around the throat by a cop and wrestled to ground where the breath flew out of him.

“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,” Garner exclaimed, short of breath.

His breath became so strained that he was forced to quit his job as a horticulturalist for the parks department.

It was one of those long moments that makes a fellow draw his breath sharp when he thinks about it afterward.

While you were admiring the long roll of the wave, a sudden spray would be dashed over you, and make you catch your breath!

Cease ye therefore from the man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for he is reputed high.

He caught his breath, he paused, then stepped within on tiptoe, and the hush of four thousand years closed after him.

He is on the violin what Liszt is on the piano, and is the only artist worthy to be mentioned in the same breath with him.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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