a. The act or process of breathing; respiration: swam down to the reef, holding his breath.
b. A single act of breathing: Take a deep breath.
a. The air inhaled and exhaled in respiration: as long as there is breath in my lungs.
b. Air that is exhaled, as evidenced by vapor or odor: It's so cold you can see your breath.
3. The capacity to breathe, especially in a natural and unlabored manner: suffering from shortness of breath.
4. Spirit or vitality: colors that lend breath to his paintings.
5. A momentary pause or rest: If I could have a breath before I go on.
6. A momentary stirring of air: Not a breath of air stirred the leaves.
7. A softly spoken sound; a whisper: There was hardly a breath of protest.
8. Linguistics Exhalation of air without vibration of the vocal cords, as in the articulation of p and s.
in one/the same breath
At or almost at the same time.
out of breath
Breathing with difficulty, as from exertion; gasping.
under (one's) breath
In a muted voice or whisper.
[Middle English breth, from Old English brǣth; see gwhrē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.