breath ( breaths plural )
1 n-var Your breath is the air that you let out through your mouth when you breathe. If someone has bad breath, their breath smells unpleasant.
oft poss N
I could smell the whisky on his breath..., Smoking causes bad breath.
2 n-var When you take a breath, you breathe in once.
He took a deep breath, and began to climb the stairs..., Gasping for breath, she leaned against the door..., He spoke for one and a half hours and barely paused for breath.
3 If you go outside for a breath of fresh air or for a breath of air, you go outside because it is unpleasantly warm indoors.
for a breath of fresh air/for a breath of air phrase breath inflects
4 If you describe something new or different as a breath of fresh air, you mean that it makes a situation or subject more interesting or exciting.
be a breath of fresh air phrase usu v-link PHR (approval)
Her brisk treatment of an almost taboo subject was a breath of fresh air.
5 When you get your breath back after doing something energetic, you start breathing normally again.
get one's breath back phrase V inflects
I reached out a hand to steady myself against the house while I got my breath back.
6 When you catch your breath while you are doing something energetic, you stop for a short time so that you can start breathing normally again.
catch one's breath phrase V and N inflect
He had stopped to catch his breath and make sure of his directions.
7 If something makes you catch your breath, it makes you take a short breath of air, usually because it shocks you.
catch your breath phrase V inflects
Kenny caught his breath as Nikko nearly dropped the bottle.
8 If you hold your breath, you make yourself stop breathing for a few moments, for example because you are under water.
hold one's breath phrase V and N inflect
I held my breath and sank under the water.
9 If you say that someone is holding their breath, you mean that they are waiting anxiously or excitedly for something to happen.
hold one's breath phrase V and N inflect, oft PHR for n
The whole world holds its breath for this speech.
10 If you are out of breath, you are breathing very quickly and with difficulty because you have been doing something energetic.
be out of breath phrase v-link PHR
There she was, slightly out of breath from running.
11 You can use in the same breath or in the next breath to indicate that someone says two very different or contradictory things, especially when you are criticizing them.
in the same breath phrase PHR cl (disapproval)
He hailed this week's arms agreement but in the same breath expressed suspicion about the motivations of the United States.
12 If you are short of breath, you find it difficult to breathe properly, for example because you are ill. You can also say that someone suffers from shortness of breath.
short of breath phrase usu v-link PHR
She felt short of breath and flushed..., Any exercise that causes undue shortness of breath should be stopped.
13 If you say that something takes your breath away, you are emphasizing that it is extremely beautiful or surprising.
take one's breath away phrase V inflects (emphasis)
I heard this song on the radio and it just took my breath away.
14 If you say something under your breath, you say it in a very quiet voice, often because you do not want other people to hear what you are saying.
under one's breath phrase PHR after v
Walsh muttered something under his breath.
with bated breath →
breath test ( breath tests plural ) A breath test is a test carried out by police in which a driver blows into a piece of equipment to show how much alcohol he or she has drunk. n-count
Police will conduct random breath tests.