breathe

verb
\ ˈbrēt͟h How to pronounce breathe (audio) \
breathed; breathing

Essential Meaning of breathe

1 : to move air into and out of your lungs : to inhale and exhale Relax and breathe deeply. He was breathing hard from running. See More ExamplesThe patient suddenly stopped breathing. I can hardly breathe with all this smoke. He wants to live where he can breathe clean/fresh air.Hide
2 : to send (something) out from your lungs through your mouth or nose a dragon that breathes fire He breathed [=blew] on the glass and wiped it clean.
3 : to take (something) into your lungs through your mouth or nose You shouldn't be breathing [=inhaling] those fumes. People usually contract the virus by breathing contaminated air. Breathe deeply and then exhale.

Full 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)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for breathe

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Then, breathe normally for 10-20 seconds and repeat once, twice or as many times as is necessary. Gregg Ward, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021 First, the improvements should breathe new life into a track that sorely needed an upgrade. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, 14 Sep. 2021 Not even Daniels, Tierney and Camp—all great, as usual—can breathe much vitality into these underwritten sadsacks. Judy Berman, Time, 10 Sep. 2021 As a natural phenomenon, our area is raw, powerful, and vast, with space to breathe and miles-long coast to walk along. Fiona Kerr, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Sep. 2021 Melissa added that her mom, who is 5-feet tall, could barely breathe during the incident because there was only about 4-5 inches of space above the water level. Joelle Goldstein, PEOPLE.com, 1 Sep. 2021 When the power went out Sunday, the machine that helps Andrews breathe after a lung collapse in 2018 stopped working. Kevin Mcgill, Time, 1 Sep. 2021 When the power went out Sunday, the machine that helps Andrews breathe after a lung collapse in 2018 stopped working. BostonGlobe.com, 31 Aug. 2021 Few journalists better understand the quality of the air Californians breathe than Barboza. Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About breathe

Time Traveler for breathe

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near breathe

Breathalyzer

breathe

breathe a sigh of relief

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for breathe

Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Breathe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/breathe. Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for breathe

breathe

verb
\ ˈbrēt͟h How to pronounce breathe (audio) \
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.

breathe

verb
\ ˈbrēt͟h How to pronounce breathe (audio) \
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

More from Merriam-Webster on breathe

Nglish: Translation of breathe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of breathe for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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