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[res-puh-rey-shuh n] /ˌrɛs pəˈreɪ ʃən/
the act of respiring; inhalation and exhalation of air; breathing.
  1. the sum total of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which oxygen is conveyed to tissues and cells, and the oxidation products, carbon dioxide and water, are given off.
  2. an analogous chemical process, as in muscle cells or in anaerobic bacteria, occurring in the absence of oxygen.
Origin of respiration
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English respiracioun < Latin respīrātiōn- (stem of respīrātiō) a breathing out, equivalent to respīrāt(us) (past participle of respīrāre to respire) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
respirational, adjective
prerespiration, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for respiration
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The young man's white chest was quite uncovered, as if the cool night air would assist his respiration.

    The Vicomte de Bragelonne Alexandre Dumas
  • And moderation, as it was justly said once, is the respiration of the philosopher.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • The knowledge of the respiration of the insect is comparatively a modern scientific acquisition.

    The Insect World Louis Figuier
  • He was thinner than before, and his eyes were red and his respiration difficult.

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • By respiration the black venous blood is transformed into red arterial blood and regenerated.

    Urania Camille Flammarion
  • Jimmy's respiration was so rapid that it couldn't be counted, so faint that it couldn't be heard.

  • The respiration should be natural, easy and through the lungs.

    Perfect Behavior Donald Ogden Stewart
  • "Yes," she said breathlessly, as if the idea affected her respiration.

  • The Frenchman's respiration was scarcely appreciable, yet after a time he opened his eyes and looked up wearily.

    The Mucker Edgar Rice Burroughs
British Dictionary definitions for respiration


the process in living organisms of taking in oxygen from the surroundings and giving out carbon dioxide (external respiration). In terrestrial animals this is effected by breathing air
the chemical breakdown of complex organic substances, such as carbohydrates and fats, that takes place in the cells and tissues of animals and plants, during which energy is released and carbon dioxide produced (internal respiration)
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 respiration

late 14c., from Latin respirationem (nominative respiratio) "breathing, respiration," noun of action from past participle stem of respirare (see respire).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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respiration in Medicine

respiration res·pi·ra·tion (rěs'pə-rā'shən)
Abbr. R

  1. The act or process of inhaling and exhaling; breathing. Also called ventilation.

  2. The act or process by which an organism without lungs, such as a fish or plant, exchanges gases with its environment.

  3. The oxidative process occurring within living cells by which the chemical energy of organic molecules is released in a series of metabolic steps involving the consumption of oxygen and the liberation of carbon dioxide and water.

  4. Any of various analogous metabolic processes by which organisms, such as fungi, obtain energy from organic molecules.

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

  1. The process by which organisms exchange gases, especially oxygen and carbon dioxide, with the environment. In air-breathing vertebrates, respiration takes place in the lungs. In fish and many invertebrates, respiration takes place through the gills. Respiration in green plants occurs during photosynthesis.

  2. See cellular respiration.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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respiration in Culture

respiration definition

The conversion of oxygen by living things into the energy by which they continue life. Respiration is part of metabolism.

Note: Carbon dioxide is a waste product of respiration.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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