- to take air, oxygen, etc., into the lungs and expel it; inhale and exhale; respire.
- (in speech) to control the outgoing breath in producing voice and speech sounds.
- to pause, as for breath; take rest: How about giving me a chance to breathe?
- to move gently or blow lightly, as air.
- to live; exist: Hardly a man breathes who has not known great sorrow.
- to be redolent of.
- (of a material) to allow air and moisture to pass through easily: The jacket is comfortable because the fabric breathes.
- (of the skin) to absorb oxygen and give off perspiration.
- (of a wine) to be exposed to air after being uncorked, in order to develop flavor and bouquet.
- to inhale and exhale in respiration.
- to exhale: Dragons breathe fire.
- to inject as if by breathing; infuse: She breathed life into the party.
- to give utterance to; whisper.
- to express; manifest.
- to allow to rest or recover breath: to breathe a horse.
- to deprive of breath; tire; exhaust.
- to cause to pant; exercise.
- breathe down someone's neck,
- to be close to someone in pursuit; menace; threaten: Police from four states were breathing down his neck.
- 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
- 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
- to take in air, esp for combustionthe engine breathes through this air filter
- 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 and History for not breathe a word
c.1300, not in Old English, but it retains the original Old English vowel of its source word, breath. Related: Breathed; breathing.
Idioms and Phrases with not breathe a word
not breathe a word
Not reveal a secret, keep concealed, as in You must promise not to breathe a word of what I'm about to tell you. This phrase relies on the verb breathe as meaning “to utter,” a usage dating from the late 1500s.
In addition to the idioms beginning with breathe
- breathe down someone's neck
- breathe easy
- breathe life into
- breathe one's last
- as I live and breathe
- breathing space
- not breathe a word