breathe Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. verb draw air into, and expel out of, the lungs
    respire; take a breath; suspire.
    • I can breathe better when the air is clean
    • The patient is respiring
  2. verb be alive
    • Every creature that breathes
  3. verb impart as if by breathing
    • He breathed new life into the old house
  4. verb allow the passage of air through
    • Our new synthetic fabric breathes and is perfect for summer wear
  5. verb utter or tell
    • not breathe a word
  6. verb manifest or evince
    • She breathes the Christian spirit
  7. verb take a short break from one's activities in order to relax
    take a breather; catch one's breath; rest.
  8. verb reach full flavor by absorbing air and being let to stand after having been uncorked
    • This rare Bordeaux must be allowed to breathe for at least 2 hours
  9. verb expel (gases or odors)
    emit; pass off.


Breathe intransitive verb
From Breath.
imperfect & past participle Breathed ; present participle & verbal noun Breathing
  1. To respire; to inhale and exhale air; hence;, to live. "I am in health, I breathe." Shak.
    Breathes there a man with soul so dead? Sir W. Scott.
  2. To take breath; to rest from action.
    Well! breathe awhile, and then to it again! Shak.
  3. To pass like breath; noiselessly or gently; to exhale; to emanate; to blow gently.
    The air breathes upon us here most sweetly. Shak.
    There breathes a living fragrance from the shore. Byron.
Breathe transitive verb
  1. To inhale and exhale in the process of respiration; to respire.
    To view the light of heaven, and breathe the vital air. Dryden.
  2. To inject by breathing; to infuse; -- with into.
    Able to breathe life into a stone. Shak.
    And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Gen. ii. 7.
  3. To emit or utter by the breath; to utter softly; to whisper; as, to breathe a vow.
    He softly breathed thy name. Dryden.
    Or let the church, our mother, breathe her curse, A mother's curse, on her revolting son. Shak.
  4. To exhale; to emit, as breath; as, the flowers breathe odors or perfumes.
  5. To express; to manifest; to give forth.
    Others articles breathe the same severe spirit. Milner.
  6. To act upon by the breath; to cause to sound by breathing. "They breathe the flute." Prior.
  7. To promote free respiration in; to exercise.
    And every man should beat thee. I think thou wast created for men to breathe themselves upon thee. Shak.
  8. To suffer to take breath, or recover the natural breathing; to rest; as, to breathe a horse.
    A moment breathed his panting steed. Sir W. Scott.
  9. To put out of breath; to exhaust.
    Mr. Tulkinghorn arrives in his turret room, a little breathed by the journey up. Dickens.
  10. (Phonetics) To utter without vocality, as the nonvocal consonants.
    The same sound may be pronounces either breathed, voiced, or whispered. H. Sweet.
    Breathed elements, being already voiceless, remain unchanged in whispering. H. Sweet.

Webster 1913