without breath or breathing with difficulty; gasping; panting: We were breathless after the steep climb.
with the breath held, as in suspense, astonishment, fear, or the like: breathless listeners of the mystery story.
causing loss of breath, as from excitement, anticipation, or tension: a breathless ride.
dead; lifeless.
motionless or still, as air without a breeze: a breathless summer day.

Origin of breathless

First recorded in 1350–1400, breathless is from the Middle English word brethles. See breath, -less
Related formsbreath·less·ly, adverbbreath·less·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for breathless

Contemporary Examples of breathless

Historical Examples of breathless

  • It is only the true lover to whom the breathing form is as sacred as the breathless.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • There was a sort of breathless touch in the air of the room.

  • Kitty dropped on the floor at Helen's feet; the hush in the room was breathless.

  • The Countess, breathless from dancing, burst in upon the little group.

  • A crowd of silent men had gathered about the box in a breathless wait.


    W. A. Fraser

British Dictionary definitions for breathless



out of breath; gasping, etc
holding one's breath or having it taken away by excitement, etca breathless confrontation
(esp of the atmosphere) motionless and stifling
rare lifeless; dead
Derived Formsbreathlessly, adverbbreathlessness, noun
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 breathless

late 14c., "unable to breathe," from breath + -less. Meaning "out of breath, panting" is from mid-15c. Used from 1590s in the sense "dead." Meaning "forgetting to breathe due to excitement, awe, anticipation, etc." is recorded from 1802. Related: Breathlessly; breathlessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper