(not) breathe a word

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(not) breathe a word

To share information that is supposed to be kept secret. Often used in the negative to encourage silence. And if you breathe a word of this to the cops, we'll come after you. I was told not to breathe a word, but I knew I had to tell someone about such serious allegations.
See also: breathe, word

not breathe a word (about someone or something)

 and not breathe a word of it
Fig. to keep a secret about someone or something. Don't worry. I won't breathe a word about this matter. Please don't breathe a word about Bob and his problems. Don't worry. I won't breathe a word of it.
See also: breathe, not, word

not breathe a word

Not reveal a secret, keep concealed, as in You must promise not to breathe a word of what I'm about to tell you. This phrase relies on the verb breathe as meaning "to utter," a usage dating from the late 1500s.
See also: breathe, not, word
References in classic literature ?
Jim and I shall stick together in the meanwhile; you'll take Joyce and Hunter when you ride to Bristol, and from first to last, not one of us must breathe a word of what we've found.
Do not breathe a word nor make the least sign to me or Porthos," said D'Artagnan to Athos and Aramis, "that you recognize this man, for Milady is not dead; her soul lives in the body of this demon.
Polly clutched Fan at that, and held her tight, saying sternly, "If you ever breathe a word, drop a hint, look a look that will tell him or any one else about me, I 'll yes, as sure as my name is Mary Milton I 'll proclaim from the housetops that you like Ar " Polly got no further, for Fan's hand was on her mouth, and Fan's alarmed voice vehemently protested, "I won't
You think I dare not breathe a word for my own sake," he continued.