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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.