from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To inhale and exhale air, especially when naturally and freely.
  • intransitive v. To be alive; live: A nicer person has never breathed.
  • intransitive v. To pause to rest or regain breath: Give me a moment to breathe.
  • intransitive v. To move or blow gently, as air.
  • intransitive v. To allow air to pass through: a natural fabric that breathes.
  • intransitive v. To be exhaled or emanated, as a fragrance.
  • intransitive v. To be manifested or suggested, as an idea or feeling: A sense of calm breathed from the landscape.
  • intransitive v. To reach fullness of flavor and aroma through exposure to air. Used chiefly of wine.
  • intransitive v. To require air in the combustion process. Used of an internal-combustion engine.
  • transitive v. To inhale and exhale (air, for example) during respiration.
  • transitive v. To inhale (an aroma, for example): breathe the lush scent of lilacs.
  • transitive v. To impart as if by breathing; instill: an artist who knows how to breathe life into a portrait.
  • transitive v. To exhale (something); emit.
  • transitive v. To utter, especially quietly: Don't breathe a word of this.
  • transitive v. To make apparent or manifest; suggest: Their manner breathed self-satisfaction.
  • transitive v. To allow (a person or animal) to rest or regain breath.
  • transitive v. Linguistics To utter with a voiceless exhalation of air.
  • transitive v. To draw in (air) for the combustion process. Used of an internal-combustion engine.
  • idiom breathe down (someone's) neck To threaten by proximity, especially by pursuing closely.
  • idiom breathe down (someone's) neck To watch or monitor closely, often annoyingly: The boss was breathing down my neck all morning.
  • idiom easily To be relaxed or relieved, especially after a period of tension.
  • idiom breathe (one's) last To die.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To repeatedly draw air into, and expel it from, the lungs in order to extract oxygen from it and excrete waste products.
  • v. To exchange gases with the environment.
  • v. To rest; to stop and catch one's breath.
  • v. Figuratively, to be relaxed or calm.
  • v. Figuratively, to live.
  • v. To repeatedly draw (something) into, and expel (that thing) from, the lungs.
  • v. To whisper quietly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To respire; to inhale and exhale air; hence;, to live.
  • intransitive v. To take breath; to rest from action.
  • intransitive v. To pass like breath; noiselessly or gently; to exhale; to emanate; to blow gently.
  • transitive v. To inhale and exhale in the process of respiration; to respire.
  • transitive v. To inject by breathing; to infuse; -- with into.
  • transitive v. To emit or utter by the breath; to utter softly; to whisper.
  • transitive v. To exhale; to emit, as breath.
  • transitive v. To express; to manifest; to give forth.
  • transitive v. To act upon by the breath; to cause to sound by breathing.
  • transitive v. To promote free respiration in; to exercise.
  • transitive v. To suffer to take breath, or recover the natural breathing; to rest.
  • transitive v. To put out of breath; to exhaust.
  • transitive v. To utter without vocality, as the nonvocal consonants.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To draw air into and expel it from the lungs; respire; figuratively, to live.
  • To make a single respiration.
  • To take breath; rest from action.
  • To pass, as air; blow: as, “when winds breathe sweet,”
  • To give utterance to disparaging or calumnious remarks; make insinuations: with upon.
  • To exhale, as an odor; emanate.
  • Figuratively, of inanimate things, to be instinct; be alive.
  • To inhale and exhale in respiration: as, to breathe vitiated air.
  • To inject by breathing; infuse: with into: as, “to breathe life into a stone,”
  • To exhale; send out as breath; express; manifest.
  • To exercise; keep in breath.
  • To inspire or blow into; cause to sound by breathing.
  • To utter; speak; whisper.
  • To suffer to rest or recover breath.
  • To open and bleed (a vein).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. impart as if by breathing
  • v. expel (gases or odors)
  • v. allow the passage of air through
  • v. utter or tell
  • v. reach full flavor by absorbing air and being let to stand after having been uncorked
  • v. be alive
  • v. manifest or evince
  • v. take a short break from one's activities in order to relax
  • v. draw air into, and expel out of, the lungs


Middle English brethen, from breth, breath; see breath.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English brethen ("to breathe, blow, exhale, odour"), from breth ("breath"). More at breath. (Wiktionary)


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