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See more synonyms for breather on Thesaurus.com
  1. a pause, as for breath.
  2. vigorous exercise that causes heavy breathing.
  3. a person who breathes.
  4. a vent in a container or covering, as in a casing for machinery or in a storage tank, to equalize interior and exterior pressure, permit entry of air, escape of fumes, or the like.
  5. a device for providing air from the atmosphere to submerged or otherwise sealed-off persons, internal-combustion engines, etc.: the snorkel breather of a submarine.
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Origin of breather

First recorded in 1350–1400, breather is from the Middle English word brethere. See breathe, -er1


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for breather

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I'm goin' to take a breather for a few days an' lay again' 'em next week.


    W. A. Fraser

  • The guests at the big table were leaning back in their chairs taking a breather.


    Emile Zola

  • Mrs. Cowdery is essentially a breather and a bringer of peace.

    Adventures in the Arts

    Marsden Hartley

  • I said to Miss White, who was taking a breather at the hall door.

    Happy Days

    Alan Alexander Milne

  • "I take what you call a breather," answered the man stolidly.

British Dictionary definitions for breather


  1. informal a short pause for rest
  2. a person who breathes in a specified waya deep breather
  3. a vent in a container to equalize internal and external pressure, such as the pipe in the crankcase of an internal-combustion engine
  4. a small opening in a room, container, cover, etc, supplying air for ventilation
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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 breather


c.1600, "a living creature, one who breathes," agent noun from breathe. Meaning "spell of exercise to stimulate breathing" is from 1836; that of "a rest to recover breath" is from 1901.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper