View synonyms for breathe


[ breeth ]

verb (used without object)

, breathed [bree, th, d], breath·ing.
  1. to take air, oxygen, etc., into the lungs and expel it; inhale and exhale; respire.
  2. (in speech) to control the outgoing breath in producing voice and speech sounds.
  3. to pause, as for breath or rest:

    How about giving me a chance to breathe?

  4. to move gently or blow lightly, as air.
  5. to live; exist:

    Hardly a person breathes who has not known great sorrow.

  6. to be redolent or suggestive:

    a poem breathing of the sights and sounds of a rustic life.

  7. (of a material) to allow air and moisture to pass through easily:

    The jacket is comfortable because the fabric breathes.

  8. (of the skin) to absorb oxygen and give off perspiration.
  9. (of a wine) to be exposed to air after being uncorked, in order to develop flavor and bouquet.

verb (used with object)

, breathed [bree, th, d], breath·ing.
  1. to inhale and exhale in respiration.
  2. to exhale:

    Dragons breathe fire.

  3. to inject as if by breathing; infuse:

    She breathed life into the party.

  4. to give utterance to; whisper:

    She breathed a prayer of thanks when everyone escaped the fire unharmed.

  5. This coming-of-age novel breathes the torments and joys of adolescence.

    Synonyms: divulge, reveal, voice, murmur, tell, utter

  6. to allow to rest or recover breath:

    After this next hill, we should breathe the horses.

  7. to deprive of breath; tire; exhaust.
  8. to cause to pant; exercise.


/ briːð /


  1. to take in oxygen from (the surrounding medium, esp air) and give out carbon dioxide; respire
  2. intr to exist; be alive

    every animal that breathes on earth

  3. intr to rest to regain breath, composure, etc

    stop your questions, and give me a chance to breathe

  4. intr (esp of air) to blow lightly

    the wind breathed through the trees

  5. intr machinery
    1. to take in air, esp for combustion

      the engine breathes through this air filter

    2. to equalize the pressure within a container, chamber, etc, with atmospheric pressure

      the crankcase breathes through this duct

  6. tr phonetics to articulate (a speech sound) without vibration of the vocal cords Compare voice
  7. to exhale or emit

    the dragon breathed fire

  8. tr to impart; instil

    to breathe confidence into the actors

  9. tr to speak softly; whisper

    to breathe words of love

  10. tr to permit to rest

    to breathe a horse

  11. intr (of a material) to allow air to pass through so that perspiration can evaporate
  12. breathe again or breathe freely or breathe easily
    to feel relief

    I could breathe again after passing the exam

  13. breathe down someone's neck
    to stay close to someone, esp to oversee what they are doing

    the cops are breathing down my neck

  14. breathe one's last
    to die or be finished or defeated

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Other Words From

  • out·breathe verb (used with object) outbreathed outbreathing
  • pre·breathe verb (used with object) prebreathed prebreathing

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Word History and Origins

Origin of breathe1

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English brethe, brethen, breeth, derivative of breath

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Word History and Origins

Origin of breathe1

C13: from breath

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. breathe down someone's neck,
    1. to be close to someone in pursuit; menace; threaten:

      Police from four states were breathing down his neck.

    2. to watch someone closely so as to supervise or control:

      If everyone keeps breathing down my neck, how can I get my work done?

  2. breathe freely, to have relief from anxiety, tension, or pressure: Also breathe easily, breathe easy.

    Now that the crisis was over, he could breathe freely.

  3. breathe one's last, to die:

    He breathed his last and was buried in the churchyard.

  4. not breathe a word / syllable, to maintain secrecy; keep a matter confidential:

    I'll tell you if you promise not to breathe a word.

More idioms and phrases containing breathe

  • as I live and breathe
  • breathing space
  • not breathe a word

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Example Sentences

You can find chemicals in the soil under your feet, in the food you eat and in the air you breathe.

Twelve of the 26, including two of the four with signs of inflamed hearts, reported mild symptoms during their infection, such as fever, sore throat, muscle aches and difficulty breathing.

I keep thinking it can’t get any harder to breathe, and somehow it still does.

In the future, there’ll probably be plenty of opportunities to breathe on each other again.

The less that people can breathe into each other’s faces, the better.

“But I could breathe freely only when the plane took off,” she told me.

I could not breathe.... When I would pass out, they would shake me and begin again.

JUDNICK: My reaction is so visceral that I immediately, like you, isolate myself so I can breathe.

It's amazing to think that someone in another country might provide you with 140 characters that allow you to breathe.

The time for remorse was when my husband was yelling to breathe!

Men's lives are as thoroughly blended with each other as the air they breathe: evil spreads as necessarily as disease.

Still, if such an envelope should be handed him, he would breathe easier until it was opened.

A dead silence followed; for a minute—several minutes neither seemed to breathe.

He makes a spiritual form of it so perfectly visible to your inward eye, that it seems as if you could almost hear it breathe!

At last two are successful, and the monster, hardly able to breathe, stands quiet and still.


Related Words

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How Do You Spell Breathe?

Spelling tips for breathe

The verb breathe is hard to spell because it is commonly confused with the noun breath, and it only differs by adding a silent e to the end.

How to spell breathe: The verb breathe is pronounced [ breeth ] with a long E sound, unlike the noun breath [ breath ]. All that E sound reminds you that there is a final e at the end of breathe.

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.