verb (used without object), breathed [breethd] /briðd/, breath·ing.
verb (used with object), breathed [breethd] /briðd/, breath·ing.
- to be close to someone in pursuit; menace; threaten: Police from four states were breathing down his neck.
- to watch someone closely so as to supervise or control: If everyone keeps breathing down my neck, how can I get my work done?
Origin of breathe
Synonyms for breathe
- to take in air, esp for combustionthe engine breathes through this air filter
- to equalize the pressure within a container, chamber, etc, with atmospheric pressurethe crankcase breathes through this duct
Word Origin for breathe
c.1300, not in Old English, but it retains the original Old English vowel of its source word, breath. Related: Breathed; breathing.
breathe down someone's neck
Pursue someone closely; pose a threat to one, as in The immigration authorities were breathing down his neck. [Mid-1900s]
Watch or supervise someone very closely, as in The boss is always breathing down our necks. [Mid-1900s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with breathe
- breathe down someone's neck
- breathe easy
- breathe life into
- breathe one's last
- as I live and breathe
- breathing space
- not breathe a word