Definition of air in English:

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Pronunciation: /er/


1The invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth, a mixture mainly of oxygen and nitrogen.
Example sentences
  • The surface tension of water is increased, and even the density of air surrounding the Earth ebbs and flows like the tides in the sea.
  • Whatever he became in that no-man's land he was a ghost, invisible as air.
  • Hence, toxic substances in air can easily reach the lung and produce harmful effects locally and in other organs.
1.1Air regarded as necessary for breathing: the air was stale the doctor told me to get some fresh air
More example sentences
  • As I rested day after day in the sun, breathing the fresh air, God slowly turned my life around.
  • Why do we have to leave our cities and towns to breathe fresh air?
  • After being locked down for so long it will be exhilarating to exit my cell and to breathe the fresh desert air.
1.2The free or unconfined space above the surface of the earth: he celebrated by tossing his hat high in the air
More example sentences
  • People have invaded the earth and the air; even the surface of the water is sliced through with boats.
  • It would fly up in the air and you had to hit it again as far as you could.
  • Ultimately, one of the dog's hind legs shoots up in the air, as its head goes down.
sky, atmosphere;
heavens, ether
1.3 [usually as modifier] Referring to the use of aircraft: air traffic all goods must come in by air
More example sentences
  • At the time no one realized that this was the aircraft which would win the air war over the Pacific.
  • It has since been implemented at all the air logistics centers, albeit in a limited capacity.
  • As we were taxiing out to the strip I saw some air activity east of the field.
1.4The earth’s atmosphere as a medium for transmitting radio waves: radio stations have successfully sold products over the air
More example sentences
  • In theory the network can send its logo over the air - as with a Nokia phone - in practice they won't.
  • But they're sending your confidential data over the air through a broadcast system.
  • The idea that comes to my mind is to do a TV show, but to do it strictly online rather than over the air.
1.5Air considered as one of the four elements in ancient philosophy and in astrology (associated with the signs of Gemini, Aquarius, and Libra).
Example sentences
  • As an air sign, Aquarius relates to places that are high off the ground or above the general eye line.
  • As an air sign, Libra likes to keep things light, bright and positive.
  • So if the chart is cast for noon then Saturn acts as the triplicity ruler of all the air signs; at midnight Mercury would be used instead.
1.6A breeze or light wind. See also light air.
Example sentences
  • From the mobile start line north of Rough Holme, Naiad got away well in the light south-westerly airs and reached the windward mark at Claife with a narrow lead.
  • Light winds make finding carp that much harder, so let's just take a look at a few ways of hopefully getting on fish when light airs are the order of the day.
  • All of the heroes that is, except for the heroes of the airs… of the winds.
breeze, draft, wind;
breath/blast of air, gust of wind
1.7Air conditioning.
1.8A jump off the ground on a snowboard.
Example sentences
  • I love to watch Richie ride; he's my fave, some style and clean airs.
  • Brian Patch did body jars, backside airs, transfer lines and skated fast to 3rd place.
  • I just learned backside airs, and I was trying to tweak them out.
2An impression of a quality or manner given by someone or something: she answered with a faint air of boredom he leaned over with a confidential air
More example sentences
  • The painting lent an air of quality to the other items on the mantel, all inexpensive purchases.
  • His malapropisms and good old boy manner give him the air of a simpleton, and yet he's not.
  • He is about 41, with iron grey hair, round glasses, and a faint air of irony.
expression, appearance, look, impression, aspect, aura, mien, countenance, manner, bearing, tone
2.1 (airs) An annoyingly affected and condescending manner: he began to put on airs and think he could boss us around
More example sentences
  • In other words, they - most of the people that are very successful in life - put on airs.
  • Alice's sharp wit and blunt pronouncements could be intimidating, but if you didn't put on airs and weren't a fool, she was fiercely loyal and endlessly forgiving.
  • But then again, he had never been one to put on airs.
3 Music A tune or short melodious composition, typically a song.
Example sentences
  • In the 17th century popular ballads were sung to the traditional airs; these were published in great numbers during the 18th century.
  • The talented Dordan group has won widespread acclaim for their unique sound - a blend of lively traditional jigs and reels, haunting slow airs, traditional songs along with mazurkas, sonatinas and waltzes.
  • Expect to hear a varied repertoire of original tunes and airs along with a choice of songs by Irish singer-songwriters and composers arranged by this dynamic duo.
tune, melody, song
literary lay


1 [with object] Express (an opinion or grievance) publicly: a meeting in which long-standing grievances were aired
More example sentences
  • There are those in this area who hate him, but are afraid to air their grievances publicly.
  • It is a new show that will give members of the public the chance to air their opinions on a range of hot topics.
  • We could set up a public forum to discuss these issues and allow grievances to be aired.
express, voice, make public, ventilate, articulate, state, declare, give expression/voice to;
have one's say about
1.1Broadcast (a program) on radio or television: the programs were aired on India’s state TV network
More example sentences
  • Every day, Dominica's Broadcasting Corporation airs a radio programme exclusively about bananas, drawing an avid audience from all over this tiny Caribbean island.
  • Last week the BBC aired a television programme that contained evidence of a problem with drink and drug misuse among doctors in the United Kingdom.
  • The television station kept airing exit polls, claiming that the party had scored a landslide victory in both the parliamentary and local elections.
broadcast, transmit, screen, show, televise, telecast
1.2 archaic Parade or show (something) ostentatiously: airing a snowy hand and signet ring
More example sentences
  • The extremely practical and funky knee length side zips with popper storm flaps allow ankles to be aired and calves exposed.
2 [with object] Expose (a room) to the open air in order to ventilate it: the window sashes were lifted regularly to air the room
More example sentences
  • It took me all of last night just to do my bedroom, and because I had to air the room after vacuuming, I had to sleep downstairs on the hard floor.
  • And these particular rooms were aired only for a barbarian envoy or a member of the merchant class.
  • All windows are open to air the rooms and with only shutters to keep out little intruders the level of noise is unbearable.
ventilate, freshen, refresh, cool
2.1 (air oneself) archaic Go out in the fresh air.



airs and graces

derogatory An affectation of superiority.
Example sentences
  • You've taken on a few airs and graces lately, haven't you Tim?
  • He was at Man United but there's no airs and graces about Teddy.
  • Despite being raised the daughter of a brigadier, and despite stints at both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, there are no airs and graces to Juliet Stevenson.
affectations, pretension, pretentiousness, affectedness, posturing, airs and graces

by air

In an aircraft: all goods must come in by air
More example sentences
  • Contrary to statistics, traveling by air is the most dangerous way to go, in the long run.
  • If the invading force had to be supplied only by air and sea, wouldn't that be difficult?
  • If you intend to arrive by air, you will enter the country through one of four airports.

in the air

Noticeable all around; becoming prevalent: I smell violence in the air
More example sentences
  • Panic and terror could be smelt in the air and that sensation of worry clenched at his gut.
  • It is still not quite the real thing but it is getting closer, you can smell it in the air.
  • It is a bit more honest, I suppose, but means that there is no real magic in the air.

on (or off) the air

Being (or not being) broadcast on radio or television.
Example sentences
  • RTE television was off the air completely during the day - not even a testcard was broadcast - just static.
  • Broadcast of the series was held up by a strike that took ITV off the air for over two months.
  • Ever wonder where those morning radio shows get all that wacky news they read on the air?

take the air

Go out of doors.

up in the air

(Of a plan or issue) still to be settled; unresolved: the fate of the power station is up in the air
More example sentences
  • What happens beyond that or where it will take place is as up in the air as his plans in high school.
  • It's still up in the air because the file folders in which we found them had no labels.
  • As the company has just recently changed hands and still seems to be up in the air, I don't know who to contact about it.

walk on air

Feel elated.
Example sentences
  • Sara smiled back and walked on air as she left the room.
  • Showing off their repertoire of skills in Roundhay Park, the unassuming brothers admitted they were walking on air.
  • Kacey said: ‘I'm walking on air, I was so chuffed to receive the invitation and the kind words.’


Middle English (in sense 1 of the noun): from Old French air, from Latin aer, from Greek aēr, denoting the gas. sense 2 of the noun is from French air, probably from Old French aire 'site, disposition', from Latin ager, agr- 'field' (influenced by sense 1). sense 3 of the noun comes from Italian aria (see aria).

  • 1 The main modern sense of air, ‘the invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth’ entered English via Old French and Latin from Greek aēr. Aerial (late 16th century), meaning ‘a rod or wire by which signals are transmitted or received’ and ‘existing or happening in the air’, comes from the same source, along with the Italian word aria (early 18th century). Aerobic (late 19th century) is from aēr combined with Greek bios ‘live’.

    2 The senses of air ‘an impression or manner’ and ‘a condescending manner’ (as in she gave herself airs) are probably from a completely different word, Old French aire ‘site, disposition’, which derives from Latin ager ‘field’, the root of English words such as agriculture (Late Middle English). Airy-fairy (mid 19th century) ‘impractical and foolishly idealistic’, was originally used to mean ‘delicate or light as a fairy’. The English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), in his poem ‘Lilian’ (1830), described the subject as ‘Airy, fairy Lilian, Flitting, fairy Lilian’. See also gas

Words that rhyme with air

affair, affaire, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: air

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