Definition of breathe in English:

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Pronunciation: /briːð/


[no object]
1Take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological process: she was breathing deeply 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
technical inspire, expire
literary suspire
1.1Be alive; remain living: 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, have life, continue in existence
informal be in the land of the living, be alive and kicking
1.2 literary (Of wind) blow softly.
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.
blow softly, whisper, murmur, sigh
1.3 [with direct speech] Say something with quiet intensity: ‘We’re together at last,’ she breathed
whisper, murmur, purr, sigh, say
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.
give an impression of, suggest, indicate, be indicative of, have all the hallmarks of
1.6(Of wine) be exposed to fresh air: letting a wine breathe allows oxygen to enter
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.
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: three wins would have seen us breathing down the neck of United at the top of the table
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.
2.1Constantly check up on someone: she’s quite capable of looking after herself without her parents breathing down her neck all the time
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

Die: as soon as King Henry had breathed his last the barons turned on each other
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: the Prime Minister would breathe new life into his party
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.
instil, infuse, inject, impart, imbue with, transfuse
reinvigorate, revitalize, re-energize, brace, fortify, strengthen, give new strength to, give a boost to, build up, bolster, prop up, help, renew, regenerate, restore, revive, revivify, rejuvenate, reanimate, resuscitate, refresh, reawaken, rekindle, enliven, stimulate, put some spark into, kick-start, uplift
informal give a shot in the arm to, pep up, buck up, get going again

breathe a sigh of relief

Exhale noisily as a sign of relief: 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.

not breathe a word

Remain silent about something secret: they would never breathe a word of anything that happened on that fateful night
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.

Words that rhyme with breathe

bequeath, enwreathe, Meath, seethe, sheathe, teethe, wreathe

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: breathe

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