Definition of breathe in English:


Syllabification: breathe
Pronunciation: /brēT͟H


[no object]
  • 1Take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological process: she was wheezing as she breathed breathe in through your nose he breathed out heavily [with object]: we are polluting the air we breathe
    More example sentences
    • When we breathe in, the lungs take in oxygen, which our cells need to live and carry out their normal functions.
    • Put your lips over the mouthpiece and breathe in deeply and quickly.
    • Close your eyes and breathe in very deeply, concentrate on the days pleasant happenings.
    inhale and exhale, respire, draw breath; puff, pant, blow, gasp, wheeze, huff; Medicine inspire, expire
  • 1.1Be or seem to be alive because of this: at least I’m still breathing
    More example sentences
    • After all this time she was alive, living, breathing, and walking on the earth.
    • Up till this morning, you were alive, living and breathing and doing alive things.
    • At each visit, the prison employee should verify that the inmate is alive and breathing.
    be alive, be living, live
  • 1.2 literary (Of wind) blow softly.
    More example sentences
    • The suns' rays beat sharply on the maiden's back and a light wind breathed through the folds of her outfit.
    • As a sly wind breathed wispily beneath my collared shirt, I opened the main doors to the school and stepped inside.
    • I could hear the soft wind breathing through the snow, and I was so cold.
  • 1.3 [with direct speech] Say something with quiet intensity: “We’re together at last,” she breathed
  • 1.4(Of an animal or plant) respire or exchange gases: plants breathe through their roots
    More example sentences
    • Around him, the Dogs breathed like so many bellows, and the crisp snow crackled beneath his feet.
    • Avoid blocking the nose with food or formula so your kitten can breathe easily and not panic.
    • All the rain we've had means that the worms can't breathe.
  • 1.5 [with object] Give an impression of (something): the whole room breathed an air of hygienic efficiency
    More example sentences
    • The room seemed to breathe the air of a different era.
    • The whole picture breathes timidity and refinement.
    • Every sentence breathes the character of its author.
  • 1.6(Of wine) be exposed to fresh air: red wine needs untold time to breathe
    More example sentences
    • Such wines should be left to breathe for a short time before serving simply to allow any bottle sickness to dissipate.
    • Pour out this wine and let it breathe while you're cooking up some lamb chops.
    • Do you want to let the wine breathe before dinner?
  • 1.7(Of material or soil) admit or emit air or moisture: let your lawn breathe by putting air into the soil
    More example sentences
    • Cotton breathes better than most fabrics and offers great absorbency.
    • Treasures here are stored in tissue paper rather than plastic because paper breathes.
    • Plastic is no good for the soil because soil needs to breathe.
  • 1.8 [with object] Allow (a horse) to rest after exertion.
    More example sentences
    • They had slowed down in front of us because of the amount the brush there was and to let the horses breathe.
  • 1.9 (breathe upon) • archaic or • literary Tarnish or taint: before the queen’s fair name was breathed upon
    More example sentences
    • He had never heard of the slightest suspicion being breathed upon the name of a judge after he had been elevated to the bench.


breathe (freely) again

Relax after being frightened or tense about something: she wouldn’t breathe freely again until she was airborne
More example sentences
  • I tried to restrain my thoughts and truly relax to some extent where I could breathe again.
  • They relax her and she feels like she can breathe again.
  • It felt like hours before he could breathe again, before he could relax his jaw and focus.

breathe down someone's neck

Follow closely behind someone.
More example sentences
  • He was always right behind me, breathing down my neck.
  • The claustrophobic camera follows him around the workshop, breathing down his neck.
  • Take one last look in your rear-view mirror at that muscle-bound, angular-featured SUV bully breathing down your neck.
Constantly check up on someone.
More example sentences
  • I've got the king breathing down my neck constantly.
  • You had to live with your parents breathing down your neck 24/7.
  • ‘I'm my own boss, there's no one breathing down my neck,’ he said.

breathe one's last

More example sentences
  • He breathed his last at the hospital at around 0930 hrs on Friday morning.
  • I know I'm going to remember this till I breathe my last.
  • ‘Nothing like breathing your last to give you new life,’ said the master of paradox Samuel Beckett.

breathe (new) life into

Fill with enthusiasm and energy; reinvigorate: spring breathes new life into a wintry woods
More example sentences
  • The opera company has a reputation for breathing new life into neglected masterpieces.
  • Even under a heavy latex suit, his intensity comes through and breathes life into what could be a wooden role.
  • Some directors combined visual and aural experimentation to breathe life into what they viewed as a moribund art form.
instill, infuse, inject, inspire, impart, imbue

breathe a sigh of relief

Exhale noisily as a sign of relief (often used hyperbolically): they breathed a great sigh of relief after the election was won
More example sentences
  • Grateful for the relief and happy at the prospect of sleep, Ely breathed a sigh of relief.
  • She told herself to breathe a sigh of relief, but somehow the relief she'd expected didn't come.
  • And I suspect that a lot of people can be breathing a sigh of relief that those talks didn't go any farther than they did.

live and breathe

see live1.

not breathe a word

Remain silent about something; keep secret.
More example sentences
  • That boy doesn't breathe a word about you.
  • You didn't breathe a word about bringing him along.
  • Please don't breathe a word to anybody else about this, I don't want it coming out.


Middle English (in the sense 'exhale, steam'): from breath.

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