the act of a person or other animal that breathes; respiration.
a single breath.
the short time required for a single breath.
a pause, as for breath.
utterance or words.
a gentle moving or blowing, as of wind.
Classical Greek Grammar.
the manner of articulating the beginning of a word written with an initial vowel sign, with or without aspiration before the vowel.
one of the two symbols used to indicate this. Compare rough breathing, smooth breathing.

1350–1400; Middle English brethynge. See breathe, -ing1

breathingly, adverb
unbreathing, adjective Unabridged


verb (used without object), breathed [breethd] , breathing.
to take air, oxygen, etc., into the lungs and expel it; inhale and exhale; respire.
(in speech) to control the outgoing breath in producing voice and speech sounds.
to pause, as for breath; take rest: How about giving me a chance to breathe?
to move gently or blow lightly, as air.
to live; exist: Hardly a man breathes who has not known great sorrow.
to be redolent of.
(of a material) to allow air and moisture to pass through easily: The jacket is comfortable because the fabric breathes.
(of the skin) to absorb oxygen and give off perspiration.
(of a wine) to be exposed to air after being uncorked, in order to develop flavor and bouquet.
verb (used with object), breathed [breethd] , breathing.
to inhale and exhale in respiration.
to exhale: Dragons breathe fire.
to inject as if by breathing; infuse: She breathed life into the party.
to give utterance to; whisper.
to express; manifest.
to allow to rest or recover breath: to breathe a horse.
to deprive of breath; tire; exhaust.
to cause to pant; exercise.
breathe down someone's neck,
to be close to someone in pursuit; menace; threaten: Police from four states were breathing down his neck.
to watch someone closely so as to supervise or control: If everyone keeps breathing down my neck, how can I get my work done?
breathe freely, to have relief from anxiety, tension, or pressure: Now that the crisis was over, he could breathe freely. Also, breathe easily, breathe easy.
breathe one's last, to die: He breathed his last and was buried in the churchyard.
not breathe a word/syllable, to maintain secrecy; keep a matter confidential: I'll tell you if you promise not to breathe a word.

1250–1300; Middle English brethen, derivative of breath

outbreathe, verb (used with object), outbreathed, outbreathing.
prebreathe, verb (used with object), prebreathed, prebreathing.

breadth, breath, breathe.

14. utter, tell, murmur, voice; reveal, divulge. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
breathe (briːð)
1.  to take in oxygen from (the surrounding medium, esp air) and give out carbon dioxide; respire
2.  (intr) to exist; be alive: every animal that breathes on earth
3.  (intr) to rest to regain breath, composure, etc: stop your questions, and give me a chance to breathe
4.  (intr) (esp of air) to blow lightly: the wind breathed through the trees
5.  (intr) machinery
 a.  to take in air, esp for combustion: the engine breathes through this air filter
 b.  to equalize the pressure within a container, chamber, etc, with atmospheric pressure: the crankcase breathes through this duct
6.  (tr) phonetics Compare voice to articulate (a speech sound) without vibration of the vocal cords
7.  to exhale or emit: the dragon breathed fire
8.  (tr) to impart; instil: to breathe confidence into the actors
9.  (tr) to speak softly; whisper: to breathe words of love
10.  (tr) to permit to rest: to breathe a horse
11.  (intr) (of a material) to allow air to pass through so that perspiration can evaporate
12.  breathe again, breathe freely, breathe easily to feel relief: I could breathe again after passing the exam
13.  breathe down someone's neck to stay close to someone, esp to oversee what they are doing: the cops are breathing down my neck
14.  breathe one's last to die or be finished or defeated
[C13: from breath]

breathing (ˈbriːðɪŋ)
1.  the passage of air into and out of the lungs to supply the body with oxygen
2.  a single breath: a breathing between words
3.  an utterance: a breathing of hate
4.  a soft movement, esp of air
5.  a rest or pause
6.  phonetics
 a.  expulsion of breath (rough breathing) or absence of such expulsion (smooth breathing) preceding the pronunciation of an initial vowel or rho in ancient Greek
 b.  either of two symbols indicating this

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, not in O.E., but it retains the original O.E. vowel of its source word, breath. Related: Breathing.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

breathing breath·ing (brē'ðĭng)
The alternate inhalation and exhalation of air in respiration.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


the action of moving air or water across the surface of a respiratory structure, such as a gill or lung, to facilitate respiration (the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide with the environment). See respiration.

Learn more about breathing with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
We can alter our gait and control breathing at a different rate, which is
  awesome for long distance.
Fishermen collect the clams by hand, by diving to the seafloor trailing
  breathing tubes.
Miners often burned the mix in their cabins, breathing in toxic fumes.
There is a rhythm, a beat a breathing soul to this city.
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