respire (respires, present participle respiring; past and past participle respired)

  1. (intransitive) To breathe in and out; to engage in the process of respiration.
    • 1964, H. Webb and M. A. Grigg, Modern Science Book 3, 155 ↗
      All living things respire or breathe. To many of this means that they take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide.
  2. (intransitive) To recover one's breath or breathe easily following stress.
    • 1671, John Milton, Samson Agonistes, lines 10-11:
      The breath of heav'n fresh-blowing, pure and sweet, / With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.
    • 1888, Edmund Shaftesbury, Lessons in Artistic Deep Breathing for Strengthening the Voice, 23 ↗:
      Second Day.—Hold the breath five seconds. Respire, and hold the breath ten seconds. Respire, and hold the breath fifteen seconds.
  3. (transitive) To (inhale and) exhale; to breathe.
    • 1799, M. Lesser, Insecto-Theology, 327 ↗:
      It is my opinion, that these animals, while they continue in the state of larvae, respire water and not air; and that they inspire the water, not by the mask, but by their posterior part, through which also they discharge it.
Synonyms Related terms Noun


  1. (obsolete) Rest, respite.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, I.xi:
      He cast to suffer him no more respire, / But gan his sturdie sterne about to weld, / And him so strongly stroke, that to the ground him feld.

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