Pronunciation Noun


  1. (uncountable) The act or process of breathing.
    I could hear the breath of the runner behind me.
    The child's breath came quickly and unevenly.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter V, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326 ↗:
      Breezes blowing from beds of iris quickened her breath with their perfume; she saw the tufted lilacs sway in the wind, and the streamers of mauve-tinted wistaria swinging, all a-glisten with golden bees; she saw a crimson cardinal winging through the foliage, and amorous tanagers flashing like scarlet flames athwart the pines.
  2. (countable) A single act of breathing in or out.
    I took a deep breath and started the test.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314 ↗, page 0045 ↗:
      Serene, smiling, enigmatic, she faced him with no fear whatever showing in her dark eyes. […] She put back a truant curl from her forehead where it had sought egress to the world, and looked him full in the face now, drawing a deep breath which caused the round of her bosom to lift the lace at her throat.
      She knew from avalanche safety courses that outstretched hands might puncture the ice surface and alert rescuers. She knew that if victims ended up buried under the snow, cupped hands in front of the face could provide a small pocket of air for the mouth and nose. Without it, the first breaths could create a suffocating ice mask.
  3. (uncountable) Air expelled from the lungs.
    I could feel the runner's breath on my shoulder.
  4. (countable) A rest or pause.
    Let's stop for a breath when we get to the top of the hill.
  5. A small amount of something, such as wind, or common sense.
    Even with all the windows open, there is hardly a breath of air in here.
    If she had a breath of common sense, she would never have spoken to the man in the first place.
  6. (obsolete) Fragrance; exhalation; odor; perfume.
    • 1625, Francis Bacon, Of Gardens
      the breath of flowers
  7. (obsolete) Gentle exercise, causing a quicker respiration.
    • c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, “Measvre for Measure”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, scene i]:
      an after dinner's breath
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