- (during an airborne stunt) the height between the ground and an athlete or an athlete with his or her equipment: The BMX course was designed for riders to get good air.
- such a jump or other airborne stunt: The snowboarder took first place with four clean airs.
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- to take a break from an unpleasant encounter or stifling environment: She walked away from the argument to get some air.
- to take a short rest.
- to be rejected, as by a lover.
- to be dismissed, as by an employer: He had worked only a few days when he got the air.
- to reject, as a lover: He was bitter because she gave him the air.
- to dismiss, as an employee.
- not broadcasting: The station goes off the air at midnight.
- not broadcast; out of operation as a broadcast: The program went off the air years ago.
- to go out-of-doors; take a short walk or ride.
- Slang.to leave, especially hurriedly.
- to begin broadcasting.
- Also in the air.undecided or unsettled: The contract is still up in the air.
- Informal.angry; perturbed: There is no need to get up in the air over a simple mistake.
Origin of air1
- a simple tune for either vocal or instrumental performance
- another word for aria
- in circulation; current
- in the process of being decided; unsettled
- informalagitated or excited
Word Origin for air
"to expose to open air," 1520s, from air (n.1). Figurative sense of "to expose, make public" is from 1610s of objects, 1862 of opinions, grievances, etc. Meaning "to broadcast" (originally on radio) is from 1933. Related: Aired; airing.
c.1300, "invisible gases that make up the atmosphere," from Old French air "atmosphere, breeze, weather" (12c.), from Latin aerem (nominative aer) "air, lower atmosphere, sky," from Greek aer (genitive aeros) "air" (related to aenai "to blow, breathe"), of unknown origin, possibly from a base *awer- and thus related to aeirein "to raise" and arteria "windpipe, artery" (see aorta) on notion of "lifting, that which rises." In Homer mostly "thick air, mist;" later "air" as one of the four elements.
Words for "air" in Indo-European languages tend to be associated with wind, brightness, sky. In English, air Replaced native lyft, luft (see loft (n.)). To be in the air "in general awareness" is from 1875; up in the air "uncertain, doubtful" is from 1752. To build castles in the air is from 1590s (in 17c. English had airmonger "one preoccupied with visionary projects"). Broadcasting sense (e.g. on the air) first recorded 1927. To give (someone) the air "dismiss" is from 1900. Air pollution is attested by 1870.
1590s, "manner, appearance" (e.g. an air of mystery); 1650s, "assumed manner, affected appearance" (especially in phrase put on airs, 1781), from French air "look, appearance, mien, bearing, tone" (Old French aire "reality, essence, nature, descent, extraction," 12c.; cf. debonair), from Latin ager "place, field" (see acre) on notion of "place of origin."
But some French sources connect this Old French word with the source of air (n.1), and it also is possible these senses in English developed from or were influenced by air (n.1); cf. sense development of atmosphere and Latin spiritus "breath, breeze," also "high spirit, pride," and the extended senses of anima.
"melody, tune," 1580s, from Italian aria (see aria).
give someone the air
Also, give someone the brush off or the gate or the old heave-ho. Break off relations with someone, oust someone, snub or jilt someone, especially a lover. For example, John was really upset when Mary gave him the air, or His old friends gave him the brush off, or Mary cried and cried when he gave her the gate, or The company gave him the old heave-ho after only a month. In the first expression, which dates from about 1920, giving air presumably alludes to being blown out. The second, from the first half of the 1900s, alludes to brushing away dust or lint. The third, from about 1900, uses gate in the sense of “an exit.” The fourth alludes to the act of heaving a person out, and is sometimes used to mean “to fire someone from a job” (see get the ax). All these are colloquialisms, and all have variations using get, get the air (etc.), meaning “to be snubbed or told to leave,” as in After he got the brush off, he didn't know what to do.
In addition to the idiom beginning with air
- air one's grievances
- breath of fresh air
- castles in the air
- clear the air
- give someone the air
- hot air
- in the air
- into (out of) thin air
- nose in the air
- off the air
- put on airs
- up in the air
- walk on air
- wash (air) one's dirty linen