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From Middle English brethen (to breathe, blow, exhale, odour), derived from Middle English breth (breath). Eclipsed Middle English ethien and orðiæn, from Old English ēþian and orþian (to breathe); as well as Middle English anden, onden, from Old Norse anda (to breathe). More at breath.





breathe (third-person singular simple present breathes, present participle breathing, simple past and past participle breathed)

  1. (intransitive) To draw air into (inhale), and expel air from (exhale), the lungs in order to extract oxygen and excrete waste gases.
  2. (intransitive) To take in needed gases and expel waste gases in a similar way.
    Fish have gills so they can breathe underwater.
  3. (transitive) To inhale (a gas) to sustain life.
    While life as we know it depends on oxygen, scientists have speculated that alien life forms might breathe chlorine or methane.
  4. (intransitive, figurative) To live.
    I will not allow it, as long as I still breathe.
  5. (transitive) To draw something into the lungs.
    Try not to breathe too much smoke.
  6. (intransitive) To expel air from the lungs, exhale.
    If you breathe on a mirror, it will fog up.
  7. (transitive) To exhale or expel (something) in the manner of breath.
    The flowers breathed a heady perfume.
    • 2012, Timothy Groves, The Book Of Creatures, →ISBN, page 85:
      Mountain Drakes breathe fire, Ice Drakes breathe ice, Swamp Drakes breathe acid, and Forest Drakes breathe lightning.
  8. (transitive) To give an impression of, to exude.
    The decor positively breathes classical elegance.
  9. (transitive) To whisper quietly.
    He breathed the words into her ear, but she understood them all.
  10. To pass like breath; noiselessly or gently; to emanate; to blow gently.
    The wind breathes through the trees.
  11. (chiefly Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity, with God as agent) To inspire (scripture).
    • 1850, John Howard Hinton, On the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures. A lecture, etc, page 16:
      The affirmation before us, then, will be, "All scripture is divinely breathed."
    • 1917, J. C. Ferdinand Pittman, Bible Truths Illustrated: For the Use of Preachers, Teachers, Bible-school, Christian Endeavor, Temperance and Other Christian Workers, page 168:
      [] that God, who breathed the Scriptures, "cannot lie," []
    • 2010, Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselor's Manual: The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling, Zondervan, →ISBN:
      Paul says that since God breathed the Scriptures, they are therefore useful; he did not put it the other way around (i.e., that they are useful, therefore inspired).
  12. (intransitive) To exchange gases with the environment.
    Garments made of certain new materials breathe well and keep the skin relatively dry during exercise.
  13. (intransitive, now rare) To rest; to stop and catch one's breath.
  14. (transitive) To stop, to give (a horse) an opportunity to catch its breath.
    At higher altitudes you need to breathe your horse more often.
  15. (transitive) To exercise; to tire by brisk exercise.
  16. (transitive, figurative) To passionately devote much of one's life to (an activity, etc.).
    Do you like hiking?  Are you kidding? I breathe hiking.





Derived terms



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