from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To inhale and exhale air using the lungs.
  • intransitive verb To inhale air or another gas.
  • intransitive verb To exhale air or another gas.
  • intransitive verb To exchange gases as part of respiration or photosynthesis.
  • intransitive verb To use air in combustion.
  • intransitive verb To be alive; live.
  • intransitive verb To pause to rest or regain breath.
  • intransitive verb To move or blow gently.
  • intransitive verb To allow air to pass through.
  • intransitive verb To be exhaled or emanated, as a fragrance.
  • intransitive verb To be manifested or suggested, as an idea or feeling.
  • intransitive verb To reach fullness of flavor and aroma through exposure to air. Used chiefly of wine.
  • intransitive verb To inhale and exhale (air or a gas such as oxygen) during respiration.
  • intransitive verb To inhale (an aroma, for example).
  • intransitive verb To exhale or blow out.
  • intransitive verb To take in or exchange (air or gases).
  • intransitive verb To impart or instill.
  • intransitive verb To utter, especially quietly.
  • intransitive verb To make apparent or manifest; suggest.
  • intransitive verb To allow (a person or animal) to rest or regain breath.
  • intransitive verb Linguistics To utter with a voiceless exhalation of air.
  • intransitive verb To draw in (air) for combustion.
  • 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.
  • idiom (easily/easy) /freely) To be relaxed or relieved, especially after a period of tension.
  • idiom (breathe (one's) last) To die.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To respire; to inhale and exhale air; hence;, to live.
  • intransitive verb To take breath; to rest from action.
  • intransitive verb To pass like breath; noiselessly or gently; to exhale; to emanate; to blow gently.
  • transitive verb To inhale and exhale in the process of respiration; to respire.
  • transitive verb To inject by breathing; to infuse; -- with into.
  • transitive verb To emit or utter by the breath; to utter softly; to whisper.
  • transitive verb To exhale; to emit, as breath.


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

[Middle English brethen, from breth, breath; see breath.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English brethen ("to breathe, blow, exhale, odour"), from breth ("breath"). More at breath.


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