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verb, \ˈbrēth\

Simple Definition of breathe

  • : to move air into and out of your lungs : to inhale and exhale

  • : to send (something) out from your lungs through your mouth or nose

  • : to take (something) into your lungs through your mouth or nose

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of breathe


  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to draw air into and expel it from the lungs :  respire; broadly :  to take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide through natural processes b :  to inhale and exhale freely

  3. 2 :  live

  4. 3 a obsolete :  to emit a fragrance or aura b :  to become perceptible :  be expressed <a personality that breathes and that distinguishes his work — Bennett Schiff>

  5. 4 :  to pause and rest before continuing

  6. 5 :  to blow softly

  7. 6 :  to feel free of restraint <needs room to breathe>

  8. 7 of wine :  to develop flavor and bouquet by exposure to air

  9. 8 a :  to permit passage of air or vapor <a fabric that breathes> b of an internal combustion engine :  to use air to support combustion

  10. transitive verb
  11. 1 a :  to send out by exhaling b :  to instill by or as if by breathing <breathe new life into the movement>

  12. 2 :  to give rest from exertion to

  13. 3 :  to take in in breathing <breathe the scent of pines>

  14. 4 :  to inhale and exhale <breathe air>

  15. 5 a :  utter, express <don't breathe a word of it to anyone> b :  to make manifest :  evince <the novel breathes despair>

breathe down one's neck
  1. 1 :  to threaten especially in attack or pursuit

  2. 2 :  to keep one under close or constant surveillance <parents always breathing down his neck>

breathe easy or breathe easier or breathe easily or breathe freely
  1. :  to enjoy relief (as from pressure or danger)

Examples of breathe in a sentence

  1. No one was more grief-stricken by Lincoln's assassination than Stanton, who spoke the imperishable words as the president breathed his last: “Now he belongs to the ages.” —James M. McPherson, New York Times Book Review, 6 Nov. 2005

  2. However, liquid nitrogen is not used for higher levels of fog because breathing this substance is unsafe. Dry ice is a safer material, and can be used either at ground level or higher. —Patricia D. Netzley, Encylopedia Of Movie Special Effects, 2000

  3. Earth is surrounded by a life-giving gaseous envelope called the atmosphere. This thin blanket of air is an integral part of the planet. It not only provides the air that we breathe but also acts to protect us from the dangerous radiation emitted by the Sun. —Frederick K. Lutgens et al., The Atmosphere, 1979/2001

  4. … The tinder burned all right, but that was as far as I got. I blew on it, I breathed on it, I cupped it in my hands, but no sooner did I add twigs than the whole thing went black. —Jean Craighead George, My Side of the Mountain, (1959) 2001

  5. He was breathing hard from running.

  6. The patient suddenly stopped breathing.

  7. I can hardly breathe with all this smoke.

  8. He wants to live where he can breathe clean air.

  9. a dragon that breathes fire

  10. People usually contract the virus by breathing contaminated air.

  11. Breathe deeply and then exhale.

  12. I'll never give up as long as I'm still breathing.

  13. a living, breathing human being

Origin of breathe

Middle English brethen, from breth (see breath)

First Known Use: 14th century

BREATHE Defined for Kids


verb \ˈbrēth\

Definition of breathe for Students


  1. 1 :  to draw air into and expel it from the lungs

  2. 2 :  to take in by inhaling <… Esperanza would take Mama's hands … and breathe in the fresh smell. — Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising>

  3. 3 :  1live 1 <He still breathes.>

  4. 4 :  1say 1, utter <Don't breathe a word of this.>

Medical Dictionary


verb \ˈbrēth\

Medical Definition of breathe

breathed; breathing

  1. 1

  2. intransitive verb

  3. :  to draw air into and expel it from the lungs :  respire; broadly :  to take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide through natural processes

  4. 2:  to inhale and exhale freely

  5. transitive verb

  6. :  to inhale and exhale <breathing fresh air>

Seen and Heard

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to expose to danger or risk

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