breathes; breathed; breath·ing
2 a : to send (something) out from your lungs through your mouth or nose [+ obj] ▪ a dragon that breathes fire — often + out ▪ breathing out [=exhaling] carbon dioxide [no obj] ▪ He breathed [=blew] on the glass and wiped it clean. — often + out ▪ Breathe out through your nose.
b : to take (something) into your lungs through your mouth or nose [+ obj] ▪ You shouldn’t be breathing [=inhaling] those fumes. ▪ People usually contract the virus by breathing contaminated air. — often + in ▪ You shouldn’t be breathing in those fumes. [no obj] ▪ Breathe deeply and then exhale. — usually + in ▪ Breathe in through your nose.
3 [no obj] : to be alive
▪ I’ll never give up as long as I’m still breathing. ▪ a living, breathing human being
4 [no obj] : to pause and rest before continuing
▪ We had barely stopped to breathe before we were on the go again.
5 [+ obj] : to bring (something) into a thing
▪ City leaders hope the project will breathe vitality/energy into the downtown. ▪ Their leadership breathed new life into the movement. [=gave new energy to the movement]
6 [no obj] : to feel able to think or act freely
▪ I need some room to breathe. = I need some breathing room/space.
7 [no obj] a : to allow air to pass through
▪ a fabric that breathes
b : to be cooled or refreshed by air that passes through clothing
▪ Cotton clothing lets your skin breathe.
8 [+ obj] : to say (something) very quietly
▪ “It’s beautiful,” she breathed. — usually used in the phrase breathe a word ▪ Don’t breathe a word of/about this to anyone! [=do not say anything about this to anyone]
9 [no obj] of wine : to develop a better flavor because of contact with air
▪ Open the bottle a few minutes before you want to drink it so that the wine can breathe.
▪ We all breathed a sigh of relief when we heard that they were safe.
1 : to chase after someone closely
▪ The cops were breathing down our necks.
2 : to watch someone carefully and constantly
▪ His parents are always breathing down his neck.
▪ I’ll breathe easier once this whole ordeal is over. ▪ You can breathe easy knowing that your children are safe.
▪ She lives and breathes music. ▪ They live and breathe their work.
▪ a breathable fabric [=a fabric that allows air to pass through]
▪ Her breathing is heavy/shallow/labored. — often used before another noun ▪ We’ll begin with some breathing exercises. ▪ He has breathing problems. — see also heavy breathing at 1heavy