\ˈbrēt͟h \
breathed; breathing

Definition of breathe 

intransitive verb

1a : 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

2 : to blow softly

3 : live

4 : to pause and rest before continuing

5 : to feel free of restraint needs room to breathe

6a : to permit passage of air or vapor a fabric that breathes

b of an internal combustion engine : to use air to support combustion

c : to be cooled or dried by air that passes by or through clothing that allows your skin to breathe

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

8a : to become perceptible : be expressed a personality that breathes and that distinguishes his work— Bennett Schiff

b obsolete : to emit a fragrance or aura

transitive verb

1 : to inhale and exhale breathe air

2a : to send out by exhaling

b : to instill by or as if by breathing breathe new life into the movement

3 : to take in in breathing breathe the scent of pines

4a : utter, express don't breathe a word of it to anyone

b : to make manifest : evince the novel breathes despair

5 : to give rest from exertion to

6 : to spend a great deal of time, thought, or effort on (something) : to be wholly devoted to (some interest or activity) The Virginia native may not breathe basketball 24-7 … but during games and practice, his focus is second to none.— Robbi Pickeral As with visiting companies, one of the key reasons for going to conferences is to avoid the tunnel vision that can overcome managers who live and breathe their business.— Leslie Brokaw

breathe down one's neck

1 : to threaten especially in attack or pursuit

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

: to enjoy relief (as from pressure or danger)

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Synonyms & Antonyms for breathe


be, exist, live, subsist


depart, die, expire, pass away, perish, succumb

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Examples of breathe in a Sentence

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 … 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 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 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 He was breathing hard from running. The patient suddenly stopped breathing. I can hardly breathe with all this smoke. He wants to live where he can breathe clean air. a dragon that breathes fire People usually contract the virus by breathing contaminated air. Breathe deeply and then exhale. I'll never give up as long as I'm still breathing. a living, breathing human being
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Recent Examples on the Web

With fewer than 10 labels, the merchandise has room to breathe, allowing customers to do the same. Gail Goldberg,, "Hayes Valley boutique Gazette says bonjour to French labels," 5 July 2018 While conditions in the Tower were hardly comfortable, with little room to breathe or water to drink, its defenses held. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Fearsome Nazi Tower That Held Off the Allies in Berlin," 11 June 2018 Neither he, nor the viewers at home, are given any room to breathe., "Why Tyler's Brutal Finale Scene In 13 Reasons Why Season 2 Is So Upsetting," 29 May 2018 Ocean’s rhymes ride beautifully over the tranquil production while the A$AP Mob head honcho laments about fame swallowing up his life and fervently trying to find room to breathe and enjoy his loved ones. Andreas Hale, Billboard, "A$AP Rocky Returns With 'Testing,' His Most Experimental Album to Date," 25 May 2018 Abrams also has some room to breathe after her primary. Amber Phillips, Washington Post, "Democrat Stacey Abrams just made history in Georgia’s governor’s race. But can she actually win?," 23 May 2018 The Hugo’s dynamics are fantastic, isolating moments of silence in a recording beautifully, giving them more room to breathe between notes. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "The Chord Hugo 2 is the worst kind of audiophile equipment," 24 Apr. 2018 Typical scuba divers will wear a mask (like big swim goggles) that covers their eyes and will breathe through a separate regulator that’s connected to their air tanks through a rubber hose. John Ismay, New York Times, "Why the Thailand Cave Rescue Was So Difficult: A Diver Explains," 10 July 2018 Within seconds the newborn fawn was out and breathing on its own. Danielle Garrand, CBS News, "Oklahoma game warden saves unborn fawn by performing emergency C-section on dead doe," 10 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'breathe.' 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 breathe

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for breathe

Middle English brethen, from breth — see breath

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Statistics for breathe

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for breathe

The first known use of breathe was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for breathe



English Language Learners 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


\ˈbrēt͟h \
breathed; breathing

Kids Definition of breathe

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

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

3 : live entry 1 sense 1 He still breathes.

4 : say entry 1 sense 1, utter Don't breathe a word of this.


\ˈbrēt͟h \
breathed; breathing

Medical Definition of breathe 

intransitive verb

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

2 : to inhale and exhale freely

transitive verb

: to inhale and exhale breathing fresh air

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More from Merriam-Webster on breathe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for breathe

Spanish Central: Translation of breathe

Nglish: Translation of breathe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of breathe for Arabic Speakers

Comments on breathe

What made you want to look up breathe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


lying above or upon

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