Definition of breath in English:

breath

noun

  • 1[mass noun] The air taken into or expelled from the lungs:

    ‘I was gasping for breath’
    ‘his breath smelled of garlic’
    • ‘Clearly, flow limitation can occur throughout expiration or only over a portion of the expiratory breath.’
    • ‘Gasping for breath at the top, I went into the bedroom and found that my respiration rate matched that of the patient.’
    • ‘Vincent coughed, trying to catch the breath that his lungs were being denied.’
    • ‘The force of the child's inhaled breath delivers the aerosolized powder into the lungs.’
    • ‘I could feel the goosebumps upon my skin, the breath caught in my lungs in the presence of the devil before me.’
    • ‘The remote fell out of my hand and breath rushed from my lungs.’
    • ‘This knocked the breath from her lungs so violently she felt as though she would pass out.’
    • ‘She took a few moments to gather enough breath to get anything audible out.’
    • ‘The crashing walls of the sea had knocked the breath from their lungs, and they struggled to reach the surface once more.’
    • ‘The collision easily knocked the breath out of him, so he just lied there, unmoving.’
    • ‘The sight she had just seen caused her to literally knock the breath out of her lungs.’
    • ‘She burst through the top of the water and gasped loudly for breath, her lungs and face stinging from the cold.’
    • ‘Hitting the hard ground, her breath rushed from her lungs and she was quickly surrounded by five angry faces.’
    • ‘Arms flailing, he crashed to the floor, his breath blasted from his lungs.’
    • ‘Holding your breath after inhaling helps your heart and lungs show up more clearly on the image.’
    • ‘For when I read the first few sentences, I was sure that the breath caught in my lungs and I almost dropped it.’
    • ‘This waif-like girl was sitting upright, gasping for breath with an oxygen cannula dripping blood.’
    • ‘As the oxygen mask reduced her need to gasp for breath, Mary relaxed a bit and reflected on her last, turbulent hour.’
    • ‘I fell to the hard forest floor, the impact knocking the breath from my lungs.’
    • ‘Zander gasped for breath, his lungs burning for it, as Charlie landed another punch in his stomach.’
    • ‘When in actuality, children need all of their breath in order to simply breathe.’
    • ‘The measurement was taken as the best of three blows from total lung capacity with no breath hold.’
    • ‘I winced as I saw his chest connect with the ground, knowing myself how it knocked the breath out of your lungs.’
    • ‘What biomarkers of lung cancer did the electronic nose detect in breath?’
    • ‘He gasped for one last breath of air, his eyes widening and his body shaking, then dropped still, motionless.’
    • ‘Cavity and maxillary sinus measurements were also obtained with mouth breathing and breath holding techniques.’
    • ‘Makoto stood there gasping for breath and Kathy was breathing heavily but still was more alert than him.’
    • ‘She struggled to keep herself quiet as she took in breath after breath of air.’
    1. 1.1 An inhalation or exhalation of air from the lungs:
      ‘she drew in a quick breath’
      • ‘He took a few deep breaths and realized it was a stain from something he drank a few days prior.’
      • ‘Taking a few deep breaths to calm down, she swung her legs over the side of the cot and sat on the edge.’
      • ‘I walked into the kitchen and took a few deep breaths in the dark then turned on the light.’
      • ‘I have to take it in my stride and take a few deep breaths and manage it in the most mature way I can.’
      • ‘Alis felt her heart pound loudly against her chest, her breathing coming in soft but quick breaths.’
      • ‘She took several deep breaths and tried to settle the uneasiness in her chest.’
      • ‘Alex nodded, went back into the bathroom and took several deep, gulping breaths.’
      • ‘She forced herself to take a few deep breaths to calm her racing heart and clear her mind.’
      • ‘She drew deep breaths and concentrated all of her attention on putting one foot in front of another.’
      • ‘He took a few deep, quiet breaths and looked away from her questioning, apprehensive expression.’
      • ‘Checking for cars, he took a few deep breaths and figured out what he was going to say.’
      • ‘I swallowed and began to take deep breaths to try to stop the fire in my chest.’
      • ‘After taking a few deep, calming breaths, she really looked at the two children.’
      • ‘When the treatment is finished, inhalation sedation wears off after a few deep breaths.’
      • ‘She had to breathe a couple of deep breaths before she could allow herself to talk about her mom.’
      • ‘It was amazing what a few calm words and deep breaths can do for the heart and soul.’
      • ‘I was taking shorter breaths and getting exhausted quicker than the average person.’
      • ‘I did not let go of his hand as he took a few deep breaths, he was still shaking with pent up rage.’
      • ‘These are beaches for walking and composing, for deep breaths and thoughts of God.’
      • ‘The boy stopped out of breath as he rested his hands on his knees and took in a few deep breaths.’
      gulp of air, inhalation, inspiration
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    2. 1.2archaic [mass noun] The power of breathing; life.
      life, life force, animation, vital force
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    3. 1.3[in singular] A slight movement of air:
      ‘the weather was balmy, not a breath of wind’
      • ‘Yes, for an afternoon or two, a breath of wind passed through the university.’
      • ‘Then, he whispered, barely like a breath of wind, the last word that he would ever say.’
      • ‘The lanes are low and narrow, and not a breath of air stirs through them.’
      • ‘Heather holds sandy moraines together, its pink and white bells shivering in a breath of breeze.’
      • ‘She hastened her steps, for the wind was a breath of chilling air and she was anxious to get home and off of her tired feet.’
      • ‘The sun was pouring down, with hardly a breath of wind.’
      • ‘Lights danced in the city below and there wasn't a breath of wind.’
      • ‘The sunshine passed away, and a breath of cold wind seemed to drift over us.’
      puff, waft, slight stirring, sigh, faint breeze
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    4. 1.4[in singular] A sign, hint, or suggestion:
      ‘he avoided the slightest breath of scandal’
      • ‘Buffy marched into the kitchen with Tara, who looked like a breath of spring in her peasant top, long skirt and shy smile.’
      • ‘The writer added a breath of intrigue to the mystery surrounding the wizard.’
      • ‘There has been not a breath of public criticism for this.’
      • ‘Coy admissions of a relationship between the parties lent a breath of intrigue to the otherwise sedate election campaign.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, priests and laity restored the mass at the mere breath of royal suggestion.’
      hint, suggestion, trace, touch, whisper, suspicion, whiff, undertone
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Phrases

  • before one can (or has time to) draw breath

    • Before one can do anything:

      ‘we were frogmarched off to meet him before we had time to draw breath’
      • ‘Some piercers use a local anesthetic, but a good one will be finished before you can draw breath.’
      • ‘Before you can draw breath the media are reporting doom and gloom in bucketloads.’
      • ‘These ladies are super quick, and will fill your bowl before you can draw breath.’
      • ‘The one sure thing you can say about the media, is that they can have it printed before you can draw breath.’
      • ‘Show some people a hammer and they will be nailing shelves to the wall before you can draw breath.’
  • a breath of fresh air

      • ‘She's like a breath of fresh air and he feels he can talk through his problems with her.’
      • ‘In an era in which kids’ films are condescending, this movie is a breath of fresh air.’
      • ‘So bloggers bring a breath of fresh air, which can only be to the media's advantage in the long run.’
      • ‘Thanks for your article; it was a breath of fresh air.’
      • ‘But he was a breath of fresh air because he was brutally honest.’
      • ‘‘This place is a godsend, a breath of fresh air,’ he says.’
      • ‘In an increasingly networked world, these politics of isolation come as a breath of fresh air.’
      • ‘For fans of the music this is a breath of fresh air.’
      • ‘She stated that she had been reading the newspaper for 35 years, and my writing was like a breath of fresh air.’
      • ‘It was a breath of fresh air and a whole new world from high school.’
    • 1An act or brief spell of breathing air that is outside or outdoors:

      ‘researchers found that 50 per cent of workers never leave the office for a breath of fresh air’
      • ‘Two ferries offer a great break from driving along with a breath of fresh air and a coffee for the driver.’
      • ‘Once outside, Rob took a deep breath of fresh air, thankful to be away from the aroma of the fish.’
      • ‘I felt so out of it that James had to stop the car for me to catch a breath of fresh air.’
      • ‘She inhaled a breath of fresh air through the apparatus, then another, before determining that she was able to breathe normally again.’
      • ‘Second-storey glass walkways connect all the major buildings in the city's downtown core, making it entirely viable to live, eat, work and play without ever taking a breath of fresh air.’
      • ‘Taking a break from the festivities, Ellen stepped outside for a breath of fresh air.’
      • ‘He had never done so much as get a breath of fresh air in the past two weeks.’
      • ‘I'm just going to go outside to catch a breath of fresh air.’
      • ‘We'd all be dead by now if we did not get a breath of fresh air occasionally.’
      • ‘Lydie and Leah were out on the balcony, getting a breath of fresh air and letting the wind blow through their hair.’
      1. 1.1Someone or something that provides a refreshing change:
        ‘Mike, my present husband, was a breath of fresh air’
        • ‘A breath of fresh air is provided by the arrival of the scandalous Mrs Erlynne (Hunt), whose reputation has preceded her.’
        • ‘Paul, as the outsider, with his British accent, is a breath of fresh air and glamour that upsets the balance in the stuffy little town.’
        • ‘Noel Carroll was a great teacher, and a breath of fresh air.’
        • ‘Limited to the period before 1800, the book should be a breath of fresh air for all of us involved in teaching African history.’
        • ‘I don't agree with everything he says or does, yet I think he's a breath of fresh air in a business that thrives on reality hidden under a heavy mask of make believe.’
        • ‘Watson is like a breath of fresh air in his life, someone who offers him the chance to realise his potential and gain some self-belief.’
        • ‘If you have had enough of cynical journalists and reviewers being nasty about everything they come across, then you may need a breath of fresh air.’
        • ‘She is the first sales manager that the company has had since 1996 and like a breath of fresh air she promises to bring new life to the position.’
        • ‘What's even better is how much this show is a breath of fresh air in an era of witless, dumb sitcoms.’
        • ‘Sarah always waltzed into the office as a breath of fresh air, smiling and optimistic.’
  • the breath of life

    • A thing that someone needs or depends on:

      ‘politics has been the breath of life to her for 50 years’
      • ‘The political will to use force is the breath of life of deterrence.’
      • ‘She hadn't done it in such a long time and she was longing for it as though it was the breath of life.’
      • ‘She poured some into the cap, cupping it into her hands and inhaling its warmth as if it were the breath of life.’
      • ‘In India, rice is often called the breath of life.’
      • ‘Yours is the house which decides the fate of the land, the house which gives the breath of life to the people.’
  • catch one's breath

    • 1Cease breathing momentarily in surprise or fear:

      ‘she caught her breath, surprised by the suddenness of the question’
      • ‘As I walked out of our cottage, the sky caught my breath as I muttered a "thank you" to God for such a beautiful place.’
      • ‘The pain wasn't too bad but it caught my breath.’
      pant, puff, puff and pant, blow, heave, wheeze, breathe hard, breathe heavily, catch one's breath, draw in one's breath, gulp, choke, fight for breath, struggle for air
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    • 2Rest after exercise to restore normal breathing:

      ‘she stood for a few moments catching her breath’
      • ‘It felt like my chest tightened up and I had to struggle to catch my breath.’
      • ‘I crouched down behind a pile of broken stone to catch my breath.’
      • ‘Once the pain subsided, I was still panting and trying to catch my breath.’
  • don't hold your breath

    • informal Used to indicate that something is unlikely to happen:

      ‘next thing you know I'll be knitting baby clothes—but don't hold your breath!’
      • ‘Now, if you're thinking SPAM and spyware issues will soon go away, don't hold your breath.’
      • ‘Don't hold your breath for any earth-shattering developments.’
      • ‘But if you are expecting a $50,000 check, don't hold your breath.’
      • ‘But don't hold your breath for a correction to appear in the nation's paper of record.’
      • ‘So I'll be in touch if I find out anything more, but don't hold your breath.’
      • ‘But don't hold your breath to see it portrayed as such onscreen anytime soon.’
      • ‘So, if you are waiting for dramatic action against air pollution, don't hold your breath.’
      • ‘But it'll take time even then, so don't hold your breath.’
      • ‘When it comes to finding out what the teacher does and how well they do it - don't hold your breath.’
      • ‘Maybe the third movie will bring the whole thing together for a coherent conclusion, but don't hold your breath.’
  • draw breath

    • Breathe in:

      ‘he stopped to draw breath’
      • ‘She drew breath and poised herself between candor and discretion.’
      • ‘He drew breath to say something, but the knight cut him off coldly.’
      • ‘He drew breath, clearly intending to continue.’
      • ‘He talks knowledgeably and constantly, only drawing breath to puff on his cigarette.’
      • ‘This is the place for drawing breath, plus a long, cool lime juice.’
      • ‘I drew breath like I was gonna start a long speech.’
      • ‘The old man remained nearly motionless, but he still drew breath.’
      • ‘For as long as she drew breath she would fight for her baby.’
      • ‘She drew breath as easily as she once did, and she could talk.’
      • ‘Photographing them gives me an excuse to briefly draw breath and to rapture.’
      inhale and exhale, respire, draw breath
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  • get one's breath (back)

    • Begin to breathe normally again after exercise or exertion:

      ‘he noticed how pale I was, and stopped for a moment to let me get my breath back’
      • ‘She was shocked and screaming and could not get her breath.’
      • ‘Finally we managed to find a corner without gas and I got my breath back.’
      • ‘Even when she broke the surface and began fighting for air, she couldn't get her breath.’
      • ‘Back in the mall we sat on a row of benches to get our breath back.’
      • ‘In the car going over there I tried to breathe and couldn't get my breath.’
      • ‘When we sat down to get our breath back, he told me he was a student.’
      • ‘She was still breathing hard, but was beginning to get her breath back.’
      • ‘I was huffing and puffing, trying to get my breath back.’
      • ‘Sitting down also gave me a good opportunity to get my breath back!’
      • ‘I skidded to a stop on Frankie's perch, leaning against the pristine white railing to get my breath back.’
  • hold one's breath

    • 1Cease breathing temporarily:

      ‘he held his breath under the water’
      • ‘Most often, when we are overly frightened, we either breathe much too quickly or we hold our breath.’
      • ‘He held his breath, afraid to breathe or make any noise.’
      • ‘Don't inhale deeply or hold your breath, just breathe normally.’
      • ‘When it ends, you realise that you've been holding your breath and, finally, exhale.’
      • ‘You want to hold your breath, because it just doesn't feel healthy breathing it in.’
      • ‘There was a squeal of laughter and Maple breathed out, unaware until now that she'd been holding her breath.’
      • ‘This test involves breathing normally then holding your breath for as long as is comfortable.’
      • ‘Performers may hold their breath or breathe rapidly and shallowly from the upper chest.’
      • ‘Remember to try tightening all your muscles, holding your breath, or breathing heavy.’
      • ‘Don't hold your breath when you lift heavy weights.’
      1. 1.1Be in a state of suspense or anticipation:
        ‘France held its breath while the Senate chose its new president’
        • ‘The answer, in case you were holding your breath, was a pretty resounding no.’
        • ‘We've been having an academic discussion and holding our breath in this area for several years.’
        • ‘I know you've all been waiting for me while holding your breath in anticipation of some sort of great leader, but I'm not.’
        • ‘There are still a lot of people holding their breath, wondering how this launch will go.’
        • ‘We were really holding our breath throughout this entire production.’
  • in the same (or next) breath

    • In the same statement:

      ‘she admitted it but said in the same breath that it was of no consequence’
      • ‘Take it as a warning sign when no one ever mentions your name without your bud's in the same breath.’
      • ‘I'd normally go a long way to avoid shows in which words like ‘engineering’ and ‘entertainment’ are used in the same breath.’
      • ‘Salzman celebrates and scrutinizes the policy in the same breath.’
      • ‘This week's people could promise you the moon, then forget all about it in the next breath.’
      • ‘Such photographers are seldom mentioned in the same breath as the kings in the world of photography.’
      • ‘I only came here so I could be mentioned in the same breath as him during the introductions.’
      • ‘It's old-fashioned and new-fangled all in the same breath.’
      • ‘Some of you may think it's wrong to talk about God and business in the same breath.’
      • ‘Then, in the next breath, he hints at something darker.’
      • ‘More often than not, the two were expressed in the same breath.’
  • the (or one's) last breath

    • The last moment of one's life:

      ‘she would fight to the last breath to preserve her good name’
      • ‘Facing the cameras, he rededicates himself to serve the people till his last breath.’
      • ‘It's a crusade that I will pursue until I draw my last breath.’
      • ‘From the moment Gwen got to that party to her last breath, I want to know what happened.’
      • ‘And in her last breath, her last moment of life, she looked around and I wasn't there.’
      • ‘Little by little, his muscles will give away, until finally he will be down to his last breath.’
      • ‘I swung into the hall, prepared to fight to my last breath.’
      • ‘I want to keep on singing till my last breath.’
      • ‘Ken took his last breath while embracing his wife, daughter and son.’
      • ‘From the moment we are born until we take our last breath and die, it is like our life force.’
      • ‘I'm required to work until my last breath to make sure that justice is done to my client.’
  • out of breath

    • Gasping for air, typically after exercise:

      ‘he arrived on the top floor out of breath’
      • ‘By the time we got to his car we were both laughing and out of breath, and had to collapse against the doors.’
      • ‘After about ten more minutes, they were nearly to the top and both of them were out of breath.’
      • ‘Half an hour later Liz walked off the dance floor and flopped back into her chair, out of breath.’
      • ‘Needless to say I made it on time and sat down roughly in my chair, completely out of breath.’
      • ‘Panting, she was out of breath when she held out her hands and gripped onto his arms tightly.’
      • ‘We were both out of breath from dancing so hard so long.’
      • ‘I entered the room from the side entrance close to the stage, out of breath but excited.’
      • ‘By the time she got home she was out of breath and her hair was messy from the wind.’
      • ‘They hear thuds as someone approaches the bedroom and Michael bursts in out of breath.’
      • ‘I was all out of breath maybe I should not have asked so many questions at one time.’
      out of breath, panting, puffing, huffing and puffing, puffing and blowing, puffed, puffed out, wheezing, wheezy, choking, winded
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  • take breath

    • Pause to recover free and easy breathing:

      ‘she had great need of a moment of silence to take breath’
      • ‘She paused to take breath for another sentence, but Will shook his head.’
      • ‘I tried to force my injured lungs to take breath, but they refused.’
      • ‘Danny sat in the water screaming, not pausing to take breath.’
      • ‘Now, the football team must take breath from this fantastic win and build on it.’
      • ‘Until the 18th Century, punctuation was closely related to spoken delivery, including pauses to take breath.’
  • take someone's breath away

    • Astonish or inspire someone with awed respect or delight:

      ‘she took his breath away, as she did most men's’
      • ‘Inside he found five masterpieces, but it was the contents of the last violin case that took his breath away.’
      • ‘The hush of the garden after the neighbor's engine died away almost took our breath away.’
      • ‘He didn't apologize, just kissed me quickly on the mouth, taking my breath away.’
      • ‘It was, quite literally, a view that took my breath away.’
      • ‘She's an astonishing performer, she takes your breath away.’
      • ‘To see all our friends there with banners, it was fantastic, took our breath away.’
      • ‘I guess I was very naive, but the violence of the attention took my breath away.’
      • ‘He slowly removed his sunglasses, revealing a pair stunning blue eyes that took Rika 's breath away.’
      • ‘And he brought to the diocese a freshness, energy and enthusiasm that took our breath away.’
      • ‘To feel such venom coming at you is so shocking it takes your breath away.’
      astonish, astound, amaze, surprise greatly, stun, startle, stagger, shock, shatter, take aback, stop someone in their tracks, leave open-mouthed, leave aghast, dumbfound, jolt, shake up
      awe, overawe, thrill
      knock for six, knock sideways, floor, flabbergast, blow someone's mind, blow away, knock someone out, bowl over, strike dumb
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  • under one's breath

    • In a very quiet voice; almost inaudibly:

      ‘he swore violently under his breath’
      • ‘She stared at the empty glass for a moment, and then swore quietly under her breath.’
      • ‘My eyes followed his steady pace around the room as he tore at his hair and swore under his breath.’
      • ‘I wandered through the apartment door in a daze, humming quietly under my breath.’
      • ‘Shiro cursed quietly under his breath as he ran a frustrated hand through his dark hair.’
      • ‘Andrea jerked to a stop again at another traffic light and he swore under his breath.’
      • ‘Even Ryan was murmuring under his breath.’
      • ‘Swearing under his breath, he stopped the juggernaut and stepped out.’
      • ‘She swore softly under her breath as she began to push her way through the crowd.’
      • ‘They chanted softly under their breath in a language said to have died with the ancient evils.’
      • ‘I growled quietly under my breath and frowned at my reflection from a shop window.’
      softly, making little noise, in a low voice, in hushed tones, in low tones, in muted tones, in subdued tones, in a mumble, in a murmur, in a whisper, murmuringly, under one's breath, in an undertone, sotto voce, gently, faintly, weakly, feebly
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  • waste one's breath

    • Talk or give advice without effect:

      ‘I've far better things to do than waste my breath arguing’
      • ‘He wanted to tell them how wrong they all were but he felt like he would be wasting his breath.’
      • ‘But they're wasting their breath, we're not about to sacrifice the principles we cherish.’
      • ‘He was bound to find out about my problem eventually, so why waste my breath when it was not needed?’
      • ‘You silently curse, but it's no use, you're just wasting your breath; no one can control Mother Nature.’
      • ‘You shouldn't have wasted your breath on them.’
      • ‘Stop wasting your breath and drive or else I'll do it myself!’
      • ‘So quit wasting your breath, forget her and move out of my way.’
      • ‘I tried to explain the spellchecker to her, but after a few seconds I realized I was wasting my breath.’
      • ‘I will explain to you, but there is no point in wasting my breath unless you answer me one simple question.’
      • ‘She didn't bother wasting her breath on droning polite words to sound sophisticated.’

Origin

Old English brǣth ‘smell, scent’, of Germanic origin; related to brood.

Pronunciation:

breath

/brɛθ/