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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English breeth, breth, from Old English brǣþ (odor, scent, stink, exhalation, vapor), from Proto-Germanic *brēþiz (vapour, waft, exhalation, breath) (compare German Brodem (haze, vapor; breath), of a different but related formation), of unknown origin; perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *gʰwer- (smell)[1] or alternatively from *bʰreh₁- (to blow; breath, vapor, steam), but without certain Indo-European cognates outside Germanic.[2]


  • enPR: brĕth, IPA(key): /bɹɛθ/ [bɹ̠ʷɛθ]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛθ


breath (countable and uncountable, plural breaths)

  1. (uncountable) The act or process of breathing.
    I could hear the breath of the runner behind me.
    The child's breath came quickly and unevenly.
    • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, “Afterglow”, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC, page 168:
      Breezes blowing from beds of iris quickened her breath with their perfume; she saw the tufted lilacs sway in the wind, and the streamers of mauve-tinted wistaria swinging, all a-glisten with golden bees; she saw a crimson cardinal winging through the foliage, and amorous tanagers flashing like scarlet flames athwart the pines.
  2. (countable) A single act of breathing in or out; a breathing of air.
    I took a deep breath and started the test.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      Serene, smiling, enigmatic, she faced him with no fear whatever showing in her dark eyes. [] She put back a truant curl from her forehead where it had sought egress to the world, and looked him full in the face now, drawing a deep breath which caused the round of her bosom to lift the lace at her throat.
    • 2012, John Branch, “Snow Fall : The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”, in New York Time[1]:
      She knew from avalanche safety courses that outstretched hands might puncture the ice surface and alert rescuers. She knew that if victims ended up buried under the snow, cupped hands in front of the face could provide a small pocket of air for the mouth and nose. Without it, the first breaths could create a suffocating ice mask.
  3. (uncountable) Air expelled from the lungs.
    I could feel the runner's breath on my shoulder.
  4. (countable) A rest or pause.
    Let's stop for a breath when we get to the top of the hill.
  5. A small amount of something, such as wind, or common sense.
    Even with all the windows open, there is hardly a breath of air in here.
    If she had a breath of common sense, she would never have spoken to the man in the first place.
  6. (obsolete) Fragrance; exhalation; odor; perfume.
  7. (obsolete) Gentle exercise, causing a quicker respiration.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


breath (not comparable)

  1. (phonetics, of a consonant or vowel) voiceless, surd; contrasting with voice (breath sounds, voice sounds)


breath (third-person singular simple present breaths, present participle breathing, simple past and past participle breathed)

  1. Misspelling of breathe.
    In the polar regions one finds dark cold waters with few places to breath.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “breath”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ Kroonen, Guus (2013), “*brēan-”, in Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 11), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, pages 74–75: “*bʰréh₁-e- (GM)”




breath f (genitive singular breithe, nominative plural breitheanna)

  1. Alternative form of breith (birth; lay; bearing capacity; bringing, taking; seizing; catching, overtaking)


breath f (genitive singular breithe, nominative plural breitheanna)

  1. Alternative form of breith (judgment, decision; injunction)



Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Eclipsis
breath bhreath mbreath
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.