res·​pi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌre-spə-ˈrā-shən \

Definition of respiration

1a : the movement of air or dissolved gases into and out of the lungs
b : a single complete act of breathing … the patient was cyanotic and unconscious with labored respirations at 40/min.— Dorwyn W. Croom
2 : the physical and chemical processes (such as breathing and diffusion) by which an organism supplies its cells and tissues with the oxygen needed for metabolism and relieves them of the carbon dioxide formed in energy-producing reactions

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from respiration

respiratory \ ˈre-​sp(ə-​)rə-​ˌtȯr-​ē , ri-​ˈspī-​rə-​ \ adjective

Examples of respiration in a Sentence

The doctor checked his heartbeat and respiration.

Recent Examples on the Web

Scientists are hard at work trying to perfect apps that can measure your heart and respiration rates, perform blood and saliva tests—even evaluate your cough. Pm Editors, Popular Mechanics, "110 Predictions For the Next 110 Years," 10 Dec. 2012 Though the numbers alone are breathtaking, there’s something else affecting our respiration: the air quality, which, yesterday in San Francisco, became among the worst in the world. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "For Those Grappling With California Wildfires, Dangerous Air Quality Is a New Risk," 16 Nov. 2018 Further, instructions for handling require precautionary measures for handling chemicals and suggest wearing protective respiration gear, gloves, and safety glasses. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Teenagers in Indonesia Are Reportedly Boiling Menstrual Pads to Get High," 15 Nov. 2018 Now fatal opioid overdoses, which can slow respiration to the point that the brain is starved of oxygen, are a growing part of that list. Ted Alcorn, Vox, "The waiting list for organ transplants is finally shrinking — for a grim reason," 24 Sep. 2018 The problem is one of aeration or, more specifically, matching root zone aeration to root respiration. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "There's no such thing as 'average' Kentucky weather. And trees hate that," 13 July 2018 Apgar was an obstetric anesthetist who created the Apgar Score, a test for newborn babies that’s still used to this day (the test examines things such as the baby’s appearance, pulse, activity, and respiration). Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Brainstorm Health: CVS Aetna Management, 'Dog Flu' Risk, Virginia Apgar's Legacy," 7 June 2018 The five factors -- appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration -- have been used countless times to help determine if a baby is healthy and happy. Mackenzie Cummings-grady, Billboard, "Google Doodle Celebrates 109th Birthday of Legendary Doctor Virginia Apgar," 7 June 2018 Opioid narcotics, such as fentanyl or morphine, have known side effects such as decreased respiration, nausea, or itching, but true allergies to opioids are also almost unheard of. Ronald S. Litman,, "Should I worry about my child being allergic to anesthesia?," 9 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of respiration

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for respiration

Middle English respiracioun, from Latin respiration-, respiratio, from respirare

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about respiration

Share respiration

Statistics for respiration

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for respiration

The first known use of respiration was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for respiration



English Language Learners Definition of respiration

medical : the act or process of breathing


res·​pi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌre-spə-ˈrā-shən \

Kids Definition of respiration

1 : the act or process of breathing : the inhaling of oxygen and the exhaling of carbon dioxide
2 : the process by which cells use oxygen to break down sugar and obtain energy


res·​pi·​ra·​tion | \ ˌres-pə-ˈrā-shən \

Medical Definition of respiration

1a : the movement of respiratory gases (as oxygen and carbon dioxide) into and out of the lungs
b : a single complete act of breathing 30 respirations per minute
2 : the physical and chemical processes (as breathing and diffusion) by which an organism supplies its cells and tissues with the oxygen needed for metabolism and relieves them of the carbon dioxide formed in energy-producing reactions

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on respiration

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with respiration

Spanish Central: Translation of respiration

Nglish: Translation of respiration for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of respiration for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about respiration

Comments on respiration

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


to gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!