thrillingly beautiful, remarkable, astonishing, exciting, or the like: a breathtaking performance.

Origin of breathtaking

First recorded in 1875–80; breath + take + -ing2
Related formsbreath·tak·ing·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for breathtaking

Contemporary Examples of breathtaking

Historical Examples of breathtaking

  • While they waited, the village folk reaped a breathtaking harvest.

    Janet of the Dunes

    Harriet T. Comstock

  • The havoc wrought among the onrushing pack was breathtaking.

    Queen of the Black Coast

    Robert E. Howard

  • He reveled in its beauty, its breathtaking panorama and its balance.

    The Inhabited

    Richard Wilson

  • Why, the little devil looked like a siren and the bare feet in the net were breathtaking.

    Janet of the Dunes

    Harriet T. Comstock

  • The West knew that these institutions were dysfunctional – but not to which breathtaking extent.

    After the Rain

    Sam Vaknin

British Dictionary definitions for breathtaking



causing awe or excitementa breathtaking view
Derived Formsbreathtakingly, adverb
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 breathtaking

1867, from breath + present participle of take (v.). Phrase to take (one's) breath away with astonishment or delight is from 1864. Breathtaking (n.) "act of taking breaths or a breath" is from 1620s. Related: Breathtakingly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper