\ ˈbreth \

Definition of breath 

1a : air filled with a fragrance or odor

b : a slight indication : suggestion the faintest breath of scandal

2a : the faculty of breathing recovering his breath after the race

b : an act of breathing fought to the last breath

c : opportunity or time to breathe : respite

3 : a slight breeze

4a : air inhaled and exhaled in breathing bad breath

b : something (such as moisture on a cold surface) produced by breath or breathing

c : inhalation

5 : a spoken sound : utterance

breath of fresh air

: a welcome or refreshing change

in one breath or in the same breath

: almost simultaneously

out of breath

: breathing very rapidly (as from strenuous exercise)

under one's breath

: so as to be barely audible mumbled something under his breath

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Examples of breath in a Sentence

When Oscar Wilde allegedly gestured at the garish wallpaper in his cheap Parisian hotel room and announced with his dying breath, "Either it goes or I go," he was exhibiting something beyond an irrepressibly brilliant wit. —Tom Robbins, Harper's, September 2004 I ski as far as I can and stop (in these relatively low-altitude coastal mountains, you don't stop for breath the way you sometimes do in Colorado; here you stop when your legs demand a break) … —Lito Tejada-Flores, Skiing, February 1999 gum that freshens your breath It's so cold outside that I can see my breath. My mad dash for the bus left me gasping for breath. I took a long breath before speaking again.
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Recent Examples on the Web

That can mean taking some deep breaths, focusing on your breathing, and feeling the ground under your feet, Tamar Gur, M.D., Ph.D., a women's health expert and reproductive psychiatrist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. Korin Miller, SELF, "After Multiple Miscarriages, Pregnant Jana Kramer Reflects on Her Grief," 13 July 2018 When his final fastball caught the outside corner, Danny took off his hard hat like a construction worker at the end of a shift, wiped his brow and took three deep breaths. David Haugh,, "Operating on Danny Farquhar's brain didn't change what was in White Sox pitcher's heart," 12 July 2018 For some fans, 2015's Ant-Man was a breath of fresh air after the save-the-world insanity of many other Marvel Studios films. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Ant-Man and the Wasp review: Even smaller scale, even bigger heart," 6 July 2018 Released just a few weeks later, Ant-Man and the Wasp practically feels like a mea culpa, or at least the opportunity to take a breath. Graeme Mcmillan, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Ant-Man and The Wasp': What the Critics Are Saying," 27 June 2018 But his daughter caught him clenching his eyes shut, taking deep breaths. Max Londberg, kansascity, "'Will he get justice?' Dad of man killed downtown by KC police calls for body cameras," 21 June 2018 In a second, no more—not even time to take a breath—water filled the cabin to the overhead. Earl Swift, Outside Online, "The Incredible True Story of the Henrietta C.," 20 June 2018 The cavernous interiors, on the other hand, are a breath of fresh air. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Casa Hualle in Southern Chile was designed by Ampuero Yutronic," 19 June 2018 Don’t hold your breath for private space travel to go mainstream anytime soon. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "Inside Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Plans to Colonize the Moon," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'breath.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of breath

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for breath

Middle English breth, from Old English brǣth; akin to Old High German brādam breath, and perhaps to Old English beorma yeast — more at barm

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Statistics for breath

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for breath

The first known use of breath was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for breath



English Language Learners Definition of breath

: the air that you take into your lungs and send out from your lungs when you breathe : air that is inhaled and exhaled in breathing

: the ability to breathe freely

: an amount of air that you take into your lungs


\ ˈbreth \

Kids Definition of breath

1 : ability to breathe : ease of breathing I lost my breath for a moment.

2 : air taken in or sent out by the lungs Hold your breath. It's so cold I can see my breath.

3 : a slight breeze a breath of wind

out of breath

: breathing very rapidly as a result of hard exercise

under someone's breath

: very quietly “Don't blow this for me,” Dad said under his breath. —Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Loses Control


\ ˈbreth \

Medical Definition of breath 

1a : the faculty of breathing recovering her breath after the race

b : an act or an instance of breathing or inhaling

2a : air inhaled and exhaled in breathing bad breath

b : something (as moisture on a cold surface) produced by breath or breathing

out of breath

: breathing very rapidly (as from strenuous exercise)

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More from Merriam-Webster on breath

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for breath

Spanish Central: Translation of breath

Nglish: Translation of breath for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of breath for Arabic Speakers

Comments on breath

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