breathe

[breeth]
||

verb (used without object), breathed [breethd] /briðd/, breath·ing.

verb (used with object), breathed [breethd] /briðd/, breath·ing.


Idioms

    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?
    breathe freely, to have relief from anxiety, tension, or pressure: Now that the crisis was over, he could breathe freely.Also breathe easily, breathe easy.
    breathe one's last, to die: He breathed his last and was buried in the churchyard.
    not breathe a word/syllable, to maintain secrecy; keep a matter confidential: I'll tell you if you promise not to breathe a word.

Origin of breathe

1250–1300; Middle English brethen, derivative of breath
Related formsout·breathe, verb (used with object), out·breathed, out·breath·ing.pre·breathe, verb (used with object), pre·breathed, pre·breath·ing.
Can be confusedbreadth breath breathe

Synonyms for breathe

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for breathe down someone's neck

breathe

verb

to take in oxygen from (the surrounding medium, esp air) and give out carbon dioxide; respire
(intr) to exist; be aliveevery animal that breathes on earth
(intr) to rest to regain breath, composure, etcstop your questions, and give me a chance to breathe
(intr) (esp of air) to blow lightlythe wind breathed through the trees
(intr) machinery
  1. to take in air, esp for combustionthe engine breathes through this air filter
  2. to equalize the pressure within a container, chamber, etc, with atmospheric pressurethe crankcase breathes through this duct
(tr) phonetics to articulate (a speech sound) without vibration of the vocal cordsCompare voice (def. 19)
to exhale or emitthe dragon breathed fire
(tr) to impart; instilto breathe confidence into the actors
(tr) to speak softly; whisperto breathe words of love
(tr) to permit to restto breathe a horse
(intr) (of a material) to allow air to pass through so that perspiration can evaporate
breathe again, breathe freely or breathe easily to feel reliefI could breathe again after passing the exam
breathe down someone's neck to stay close to someone, esp to oversee what they are doingthe cops are breathing down my neck
breathe one's last to die or be finished or defeated

Word Origin for breathe

C13: from breath
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

Word Origin and History for breathe down someone's neck

breathe

v.

c.1300, not in Old English, but it retains the original Old English vowel of its source word, breath. Related: Breathed; breathing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with breathe down someone's neck

breathe down someone's neck

1

Pursue someone closely; pose a threat to one, as in The immigration authorities were breathing down his neck. [Mid-1900s]

2

Watch or supervise someone very closely, as in The boss is always breathing down our necks. [Mid-1900s]

breathe

In addition to the idioms beginning with breathe

  • breathe down someone's neck
  • breathe easy
  • breathe life into
  • breathe one's last

also see:

  • as I live and breathe
  • breathing space
  • not breathe a word
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.