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breathe

[breeth] /brið/
verb (used without object), breathed
[breeth d] /briðd/ (Show IPA),
breathing.
1.
to take air, oxygen, etc., into the lungs and expel it; inhale and exhale; respire.
2.
(in speech) to control the outgoing breath in producing voice and speech sounds.
3.
to pause, as for breath; take rest:
How about giving me a chance to breathe?
4.
to move gently or blow lightly, as air.
5.
to live; exist:
Hardly a man breathes who has not known great sorrow.
6.
to be redolent of.
7.
(of a material) to allow air and moisture to pass through easily:
The jacket is comfortable because the fabric breathes.
8.
(of the skin) to absorb oxygen and give off perspiration.
9.
(of a wine) to be exposed to air after being uncorked, in order to develop flavor and bouquet.
verb (used with object), breathed
[breeth d] /briðd/ (Show IPA),
breathing.
10.
to inhale and exhale in respiration.
11.
to exhale:
Dragons breathe fire.
12.
to inject as if by breathing; infuse:
She breathed life into the party.
13.
to give utterance to; whisper.
14.
to express; manifest.
15.
to allow to rest or recover breath:
to breathe a horse.
16.
to deprive of breath; tire; exhaust.
17.
to cause to pant; exercise.
Idioms
18.
breathe down someone's neck,
  1. to be close to someone in pursuit; menace; threaten:
    Police from four states were breathing down his neck.
  2. to watch someone closely so as to supervise or control:
    If everyone keeps breathing down my neck, how can I get my work done?
19.
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.
20.
breathe one's last, to die:
He breathed his last and was buried in the churchyard.
21.
not breathe a word / syllable, to maintain secrecy; keep a matter confidential:
I'll tell you if you promise not to breathe a word.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English brethen, derivative of breath
Related forms
outbreathe, verb (used with object), outbreathed, outbreathing.
prebreathe, verb (used with object), prebreathed, prebreathing.
Can be confused
breadth, breath, breathe.
Synonyms
14. utter, tell, murmur, voice; reveal, divulge.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for breathe down someone's neck

breathe

/briːð/
verb
1.
to take in oxygen from (the surrounding medium, esp air) and give out carbon dioxide; respire
2.
(intransitive) to exist; be alive: every animal that breathes on earth
3.
(intransitive) to rest to regain breath, composure, etc: stop your questions, and give me a chance to breathe
4.
(intransitive) (esp of air) to blow lightly: the wind breathed through the trees
5.
(intransitive) (machinery)
  1. to take in air, esp for combustion: the engine breathes through this air filter
  2. to equalize the pressure within a container, chamber, etc, with atmospheric pressure: the crankcase breathes through this duct
6.
(transitive) (phonetics) to articulate (a speech sound) without vibration of the vocal cords Compare voice (sense 19)
7.
to exhale or emit: the dragon breathed fire
8.
(transitive) to impart; instil: to breathe confidence into the actors
9.
(transitive) to speak softly; whisper: to breathe words of love
10.
(transitive) to permit to rest: to breathe a horse
11.
(intransitive) (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
Word Origin
C13: from breath
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for breathe down someone's neck

breathe

v.

c.1300, not in Old English, but it retains the original Old English vowel of its source word, breath. Related: Breathed; breathing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with breathe down someone's neck

breathe down someone's neck

.
Pursue someone closely; pose a threat to one, as in The immigration authorities were breathing down his neck. [ Mid-1900s ]
.
Watch or supervise someone very closely, as in The boss is always breathing down our necks. [ Mid-1900s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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