Definition of breath noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//breθ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//breθ//
    jump to other results
  1. 1  [uncountable] the air that you take into your lungs and send out again His breath smelt of garlic. bad breath (= that smells bad) We had to stop for breath before we got to the top. She was very short of breath (= had difficulty breathing). While there is breath left in my body, I will refuse.
  2. 2  [countable] an amount of air that enters the lungs at one time to take a deep breath He recited the whole poem in one breath.
  3. 3[singular] breath of something (formal) a small amount of something; slight evidence of something a breath of suspicion/scandal
  4. 4[singular] a breath of air/wind (literary) a slight movement of air
  5. Word OriginOld English brǣth ‘smell, scent’, of Germanic origin; related to brood.Extra examples He came up out of the water gasping for breath. He let out a long breath. He spoke solidly for twenty minutes, barely pausing to draw breath. He was whispering rude remarks about her under his breath. His breath came in short gasps. How can we trust a government that mentions community care and cutbacks in the same breath? How long can you hold your breath for? I could smell gin on her breath. I felt a bit short of breath and had to sit down. I needed a few minutes to get my breath back after the run. I’m a bit out of breath after my run. I’m going outside for a breath of fresh air. It was a still day, without a breath of wind. It’s useless talking to him—you may as well save your breath. She could feel his warm breath against her cheek. She paused to catch her breath. She poured out her story, hardly pausing for breath. Smoking gives you bad breath. Take a deep breath and try to relax. The new secretary is a breath of fresh air. The sheer audacity of the man took my breath away. We waited for the decision with bated breath. When he said he had resigned, I caught my breath in surprise. When the news was announced, there was a sharp intake of breath. I opened the window and took a deep breath. Take slow, calm breaths until you feel your heartbeat slowing down.Idioms
    a breath of (fresh) air
    jump to other results
    clean air breathed in after being indoors or in a dirty atmosphere We'll get a breath of fresh air at lunchtime. See related entries: Exercise
    a person, thing or place that is new and different and therefore interesting and exciting
    the breath of life to/for somebody
    jump to other results
    (literary) an essential part of a person’s existence Playing the violin has been the breath of life to her for over 20 years.
    1. 1to stop breathing for a moment because of fear, shock, etc. See related entries: Fear, Showing interest
    2. 2to breathe normally again after running or doing some tiring exercise
      draw breath (British English) (US English draw a breath)
      jump to other results
    1. 1to stop doing something and rest She talks all the time and hardly stops to draw breath.
    2. 2(literary) to live; to be alive He was as kind a man as ever drew breath.
    get your breath (again/back) (British English) (also catch your breath North American English, British English)
    jump to other results
    to breathe normally again after running or doing some tiring exercise
    1. 1to stop breathing for a short time Hold your breath and count to ten.
    2. 2to be anxious while you are waiting for something that you are worried about He held his breath while the results were read out.
    3. 3(informal) people say don’t hold your breath! to emphasize that something will take a long time or may not happen She said she'd do it this week, but don't hold your breath!
    immediately after saying something that suggests the opposite intention or meaning He praised my work and in the same breath told me I would have to leave.
    his/her last/dying breath
    jump to other results
    the last moment of a person’s life
     having difficulty breathing after exercise We were out of breath after only five minutes. (informal) used to tell somebody that it is not worth wasting time and effort saying something because it will not change anything Save your breath—you'll never persuade her.
    say something, speak, etc. under your breath
    jump to other results
    to say something quietly so that people cannot hear ‘Rubbish!’ he murmured under his breath.
    take somebody’s breath away
    jump to other results
    to be very surprising or beautiful My first view of the island from the air took my breath away.
    to say something that nobody takes any notice of (formal) feeling very anxious or excited We waited with bated breath for the winner to be announced. See related entries: Excitement
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: breath