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From breath +‎ -less.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɹɛθləs/
  • Hyphenation: breath‧less


breathless (comparative more breathless, superlative most breathless)

  1. Having difficulty breathing; gasping.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, translated by H.L. Brækstad, Folk and Fairy Tales, page 281:
      In thoughtless and breathless fear I rushed forward to avoid this host of demons, but while flying thus still more frightful and distorted shapes appeared, and I fancied I felt their hands clutching me.
  2. That makes one hold one's breath (with excitement etc.).
    • 2017 March 14, Stuart James, “Leicester stun Sevilla to reach last eight after Kasper Schmeichel save”, in the Guardian[1]:
      By that stage Sevilla were down to 10 men and Jorge Sampaoli, their manager, had been sent to the stands as a breathless encounter started to spiral out of control.
    • 1934, Frank Richards, The Magnet: The Mystery of the Vaults:
      The plane buzzed on at a breathless speed. Bob had been in a plane before, and he had no fear. Indeed, but for the strange circumstances, he would have enjoyed that breathless rush through space.
  3. Not breathing; dead or apparently so.
  4. Having no wind; still, calm or airless.
  5. Having a somewhat hysterical tone, using over-emotive language.
    • 2010 January 30, Robert Mendick, Amrit Dhillon, “Revealed: the racy novel written by the worlds most powerful climate scientist”, in Daily Telegraph[2]:
      In breathless prose that risks making Dr Pachauri, who will be 70 this year, a laughing stock among the serious, high-minded scientists,
    • 2018 May 21, T.A. Frank, “Has The Don Jr. bombshell blown up the Trump-Russia case?”, in Vanity Fair[3]:
      The more some of us learn, the harder it gets to take each breathless headline seriously.

Derived terms[edit]