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air Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a mixture of gases (especially oxygen) required for breathing; the stuff that the wind consists of
    • air pollution
    • a smell of chemicals in the air
    • open a window and let in some air
    • I need some fresh air
  2. noun the region above the ground
    • her hand stopped in mid air
    • he threw the ball into the air
  3. noun a distinctive but intangible quality surrounding a person or thing
    atmosphere; aura.
    • an air of mystery
    • the house had a neglected air
    • an atmosphere of defeat pervaded the candidate's headquarters
    • the place had an aura of romance
  4. noun a slight wind (usually refreshing)
    breeze; zephyr; gentle wind.
    • the breeze was cooled by the lake
    • as he waited he could feel the air on his neck
  5. noun the mass of air surrounding the Earth
    • there was great heat as the comet entered the atmosphere
    • it was exposed to the air
  6. noun once thought to be one of four elements composing the universe (Empedocles)
  7. noun a succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence
    melodic phrase; melodic line; strain; melody; line; tune.
    • she was humming an air from Beethoven
  8. noun medium for radio and television broadcasting
    • the program was on the air from 9 til midnight
    • the president used the airwaves to take his message to the people
  9. noun travel via aircraft
    aviation; air travel.
    • air travel involves too much waiting in airports
    • if you've time to spare go by air
  10. verb expose to fresh air
    aerate; air out.
    • aerate your old sneakers
  11. verb be broadcast
    • This show will air Saturdays at 2 P.M.
  12. verb broadcast over the airwaves, as in radio or television
    broadcast; beam; transmit; send.
    • We cannot air this X-rated song
  13. verb make public
    publicize; bare; publicise.
    • She aired her opinions on welfare
  14. verb expose to warm or heated air, so as to dry
    • Air linen
  15. verb expose to cool or cold air so as to cool or freshen
    vent; ventilate; air out.
    • air the old winter clothes
    • air out the smoke-filled rooms

Air noun
OE. air, eir, F. air, L. aër, fr. Gr. , air, mist, for , fr. root to blow, breathe, probably akin to E. wind. In sense 10 the French has taking a meaning fr. It. aria atmosphere, air, fr. the same Latin word; and in senses 11, 12, 13 the French meaning is either fr. L. aria, or due to confusion with F. aire, in an older sense of origin, descent. Cf. Ary, Debonair, Malaria, Wind.
  1. The fluid which we breathe, and which surrounds the earth; the atmosphere. It is invisible, inodorous, insipid, transparent, compressible, elastic, and ponderable. ✍ By the ancient philosophers, air was regarded as an element; but modern science has shown that it is essentially a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen, with a small amount of carbon dioxide, the average proportions being, by volume: oxygen, 20.96 per cent.; nitrogen, 79.00 per cent.; carbon dioxide, 0.04 per cent. These proportions are subject to a very slight variability. Air also always contains some vapor of water.
  2. Symbolically: Something unsubstantial, light, or volatile. "Charm ache with air." Shak.
    He was still all air and fire. Macaulay
    . [Air and fire being the finer and quicker elements as opposed to earth and water.]
  3. A particular state of the atmosphere, as respects heat, cold, moisture, etc., or as affecting the sensations; as, a smoky air, a damp air, the morning air, etc.
  4. Any aëriform body; a gas; as, oxygen was formerly called vital air. Obs.
  5. Air in motion; a light breeze; a gentle wind.
    Let vernal airs through trembling osiers play. Pope.
  6. Odoriferous or contaminated air.
  7. That which surrounds and influences.
    The keen, the wholesome air of poverty. Wordsworth.
  8. Utterance abroad; publicity; vent.
    You gave it air before me. Dryden.
  9. Intelligence; information. Obs. Bacon.
  10. (Mus.) (a) A musical idea, or motive, rhythmically developed in consecutive single tones, so as to form a symmetrical and balanced whole, which may be sung by a single voice to the stanzas of a hymn or song, or even to plain prose, or played upon an instrument; a melody; a tune; an aria. (b) In harmonized chorals, psalmody, part songs, etc., the part which bears the tune or melody -- in modern harmony usually the upper part -- is sometimes called the air.
  11. The peculiar look, appearance, and bearing of a person; mien; demeanor; as, the air of a youth; a heavy air; a lofty air. "His very air." Shak.
  12. Peculiar appearance; apparent character; semblance; manner; style.
    It was communicated with the air of a secret. Pope.
  13. pl. An artificial or affected manner; show of pride or vanity; haughtiness; as, it is said of a person, he puts on airs. Thackeray.
  14. (Paint.) (a) The representation or reproduction of the effect of the atmospheric medium through which every object in nature is viewed. New Am. Cyc. (b) Carriage; attitude; action; movement; as, the head of that portrait has a good air. Fairholt.
  15. (Man.) The artificial motion or carriage of a horse. Air is much used adjectively or as the first part of a compound term. In most cases it might be written indifferently, as a separate limiting word, or as the first element of the compound term, with or without the hyphen; as, air bladder, air-bladder, or airbladder; air cell, air-cell, or aircell; air-pump, or airpump.
Air transitive verb
See Air, n., and cf. Arate.
imperfect & past participle Aired present participle & verbal noun Airing
  1. To expose to the air for the purpose of cooling, refreshing, or purifying; to ventilate; as, to air a room.
    It were good wisdom . . . that the jail were aired. Bacon.
    Were you but riding forth to air yourself. Shak.
  2. To expose for the sake of public notice; to display ostentatiously; as, to air one's opinion.
    Airing a snowy hand and signet gem. Tennyson.
  3. To expose to heat, for the purpose of expelling dampness, or of warming; as, to air linen; to air liquors.

Webster 1913