Definition of breath in English:

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Pronunciation: /brɛθ/


[mass noun]
1The air taken into or expelled from the lungs: I was gasping for breath his breath smelled of garlic
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Gasping for breath at the top, I went into the bedroom and found that my respiration rate matched that of the patient.
informal puff
1.1An inhalation or exhalation of air from the lungs: she drew in a quick breath
More example sentences
  • When the treatment is finished, inhalation sedation wears off after a few deep breaths.
  • I was taking shorter breaths and getting exhausted quicker than the average person.
  • I have to take it in my stride and take a few deep breaths and manage it in the most mature way I can.
gulp of air, inhalation, inspiration;
exhalation, expiration;
pant, gasp, wheeze
technical respiration
1.2 [mass noun] archaic The power of breathing; life.
life, life force, animation, vital force
1.3 [in singular] A slight movement of air: the weather was balmy, not a breath of wind
More example sentences
  • 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 sun was pouring down, with hardly a breath of wind.
puff, waft, slight stirring, sigh, faint breeze
literary zephyr
1.4 [in singular] A sign, hint, or suggestion: he avoided the slightest breath of scandal
More example sentences
  • Nevertheless, priests and laity restored the mass at the mere breath of royal suggestion.
  • The writer added a breath of intrigue to the mystery surrounding the wizard.
  • Coy admissions of a relationship between the parties lent a breath of intrigue to the otherwise sedate election campaign.
hint, suggestion, trace, touch, whisper, suspicion, whiff, undertone



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
More example sentences
  • Some piercers use a local anesthetic, but a good one will be finished 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.
  • These ladies are super quick, and will fill your bowl before you can draw breath.

a breath of fresh air

see fresh air.
Example sentences
  • But he was a breath of fresh air because he was brutally honest.
  • In an era in which kids’ films are condescending, this movie is a breath of fresh air.
  • She's like a breath of fresh air and he feels he can talk through his problems with her.

the breath of life

A thing that someone needs or depends on: politics has been the breath of life to her for 50 years
More example sentences
  • Yours is the house which decides the fate of the land, the house which gives the breath of life to the people.
  • In India, rice is often called 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.

catch one's breath

1Cease breathing momentarily in surprise or fear: she caught her breath, surprised by the suddenness of the question
More example sentences
  • The pain wasn't too bad but it caught my breath.
  • 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.
2Rest after exercise to restore normal breathing: she stood for a few moments catching her breath
More example sentences
  • Once the pain subsided, I was still panting and trying to catch my 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.

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!
More example sentences
  • 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 don't hold your breath for a correction to appear in the nation's paper of record.

draw breath

Breathe in: he stopped to draw breath
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Photographing them gives me an excuse to briefly draw breath and to rapture.

get one's breath (back)

British 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
More example sentences
  • She was still breathing hard, but was beginning to get her breath back.
  • In the car going over there I tried to breathe and couldn't get my breath.
  • She was shocked and screaming and could not get her breath.

hold one's breath

Cease breathing temporarily: he held his breath under the water
More example sentences
  • Remember to try tightening all your muscles, holding your breath, or breathing heavy.
  • This test involves breathing normally then holding your breath for as long as is comfortable.
  • Don't inhale deeply or hold your breath, just breathe normally.
8.1Be in a state of suspense or anticipation: France held its breath while the Senate chose its new president
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • The answer, in case you were holding your breath, was a pretty resounding no.
  • There are still a lot of people holding their breath, wondering how this launch will go.

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
More example sentences
  • I'd normally go a long way to avoid shows in which words like ‘engineering’ and ‘entertainment’ are used in the same breath.
  • I only came here so I could be mentioned in the same breath as him during the introductions.
  • Salzman celebrates and scrutinizes the policy 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
More example sentences
  • And in her last breath, her last moment of life, she looked around and I wasn't there.
  • I swung into the hall, prepared to fight to my last breath.
  • From the moment we are born until we take our last breath and die, it is like our life force.

out of breath

Gasping for air, typically after exercise: he arrived on the top floor out of breath
More example sentences
  • Panting, she was out of breath when she held out her hands and gripped onto his arms tightly.
  • Half an hour later Liz walked off the dance floor and flopped back into her chair, out of breath.
  • After about ten more minutes, they were nearly to the top and both of them were out of breath.

take breath

Pause to recover free and easy breathing: she had great need of a moment of silence to take breath
More example sentences
  • Until the 18th Century, punctuation was closely related to spoken delivery, including pauses to take breath.
  • Danny sat in the water screaming, not pausing to take breath.
  • She paused to take breath for another sentence, but Will shook his head.

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
More example sentences
  • She's an astonishing performer, she takes your breath away.
  • To feel such venom coming at you is so shocking it takes your breath away.
  • He slowly removed his sunglasses, revealing a pair stunning blue eyes that took Rika 's 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
informal knock for six, knock sideways, floor, flabbergast, blow someone's mind, blow away, knock someone out, bowl over, strike dumb

under one's breath

In a very quiet voice; almost inaudibly: he swore violently under his breath
More example sentences
  • She swore softly under her breath as she began to push her way through the crowd.
  • She stared at the empty glass for a moment, and then swore quietly under her breath.
  • They chanted softly under their breath in a language said to have died with the ancient evils.

waste one's breath

Talk or give advice without effect: I’ve far better things to do than waste my breath arguing
More example sentences
  • But they're wasting their breath, we're not about to sacrifice the principles we cherish.
  • So quit wasting your breath, forget her and move out of my way.
  • Stop wasting your breath and drive or else I'll do it myself!


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

Words that rhyme with breath

Beth, death, Jerez, Macbeth, Seth

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: breath

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