Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
A sufficient buffer of time, space, or money that allows for freedom of movement or relief from a given source of pressure or stress. My yearly bonus always affords us a little bit of breathing room for the Christmas expenses. Please move back and give us some breathing room here. The professor extended the deadline for our midterm papers, so I've got a bit of breathing room to get it finished.
1. A sufficient buffer of time or space that allows for freedom of movement or relief from a given source of pressure or stress. My yearly bonus always affords us a little bit of breathing space for the Christmas expenses. Please move back and give us some of breathing space here. The professor extended the deadline for our midterm papers, so I've got a bit of breathing space to get it finished.
2. A pause to rest or to think over something. Give me a minute, I just need a little breathing space while I figure this out.
A pause to rest or to think over something. Give me a minute, I just need a little breathing spell while I figure this out.
(used as a modifier before a noun) Particularly ardent, vehement, or excoriating in speech or behavior. Likened to a dragon or other creature able to shoot streams of fire from its mouth. Their fire-breathing boss had all the employees constantly on edge. The fire-breathing politician was quite polarizing, but her fans were intensely loyal and supportive.
(used before a noun) Dimwitted, foolish, or stupid; of low or stunted intelligence. Maybe you wouldn't have failed the exam if you weren't such a mouth-breathing nincompoop! That mouth-breathing idiot Terry parked his car in my space again. That's the third time this month!
(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.
breathe down (one's) neck
1. To monitor someone closely, usually in an overbearing and irritating way. I just got another email from the boss asking about the status of this report, as if breathing down my neck is going to make me finish it faster!
2. To be physically close to someone in an unnerving or unwanted way. Back up, dude—I'll never make this shot with you breathing down my neck!
To feel calm or relieved because a stressful situation has ended. With your thesis defense finished, you can finally breathe easy! All week, I was worried about having to give that presentation, so I can breathe easy again now that it's done!
To strongly express one's anger, typically verbally. Unless you want to get yelled at, stay away from the boss today—he's breathing fire over that printing mishap.
To inhale. A noun can be used between "breathe" and "in" to state a specific substance being inhaled. The doctor held the stethoscope to my chest and asked me to breathe in. After many years of breathing in pollution, I now have asthma. Breathe the fresh air in and try to relax.
breathe into (something)
1. To exhale into something, such as a container, device, or (in the case of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) another person's mouth. In an effort to calm myself down, I tried breathing into a paper bag. The doctor asked me to breathe into a special device. After pulling the drowning boy to safety, the lifeguard started chest compressions on him and breathed into his mouth.
2. To figuratively revive and revitalize something that has become dull or stale. In this phrase, a noun is used between "breathe" and "into." The new CEO's creative approach really breathed new life into that failing company.
breathe (up)on (someone or something)
To exhale onto someone or something. Quit breathing on me with your germs—I don't want to get sick, too! The engagement ring is so expensive that I'm nervous to even breathe upon it!
To exhale. A noun can be used between "breathe" and "out" to state a specific substance being exhaled. The doctor held the stethoscope to my chest and asked me to breathe in and then breathe out. When you do this meditation, try to imagine that you are breathing your stress out with each exhale.
breathe a sigh of relief
To experience an intense feeling of happiness or relief because something particularly stressful, unpleasant, or undesirable has been avoided or completed. Everyone in class breathed a sigh of relief after that horrible midterm exam was over. Investors are breathing a big sigh of relief now that the predicted downturn has seemingly been avoided.
Pardon me for breathing!
An angry, exasperated response to a criticism or rebuke that one feels is unwarranted or unjustified. A: "Would you please just sit down and stop trying to help? You're only getting in my way." B: "Well, pardon me for breathing!"
See also: pardon
be breathing down (one's) neck
1. To be monitoring someone closely, usually in an overbearing and irritating way. The boss is constantly breathing down my neck about this project—as if that will make me finish it faster!
2. To be physically close to someone in an unnerving or unwanted way. Back up, dude—I'll never make this shot if you're breathing down my neck!
3. To be advancing on an opponent, typically in a race. I ultimately won the race, but the girl who came in second place was really breathing down my neck.
be breathing fire
To be strongly expressing one's anger, typically verbally. Unless you want to get yelled at, stay away from the boss today—he's breathing fire over that printing mishap.
pardon me for living/breathing/existing/etc.
An angry, exasperated response to a criticism or rebuke that one feels is unwarranted or unjustified, especially since they believe they did something very minimal or nothing at all. (Any verb that approximately means "living" can be used after "for.") A: "Would you please just sit down and stop getting in my way?" B: "Well, pardon me for breathing!" You don't need to get so upset, I was just suggesting you ask for directions. Pardon me for living!
Excuse me for breathing!
A sarcastic phrase used in response to criticism or a reprimand, often for a minor indiscretion. Well, excuse me for breathing! Next time, I won't bother trying to help you at all!
See also: excuse
breathe a sigh of relief
1. Lit. to sigh in a way that signals one's relief that something has come to an end. At the end of the contest, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
2. Fig. to express relief that something has ended. With the contract finally signed, we breathed a sigh of relief as we drank a toast in celebration.
to assume a relaxed state after a stressful period. After this crisis is over, I'll be able to breathe easy again. He won't be able to breathe easy until he pays off his debts.
to inhale; to take air into the lungs. Now, relax and breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in deeply; enjoy the summer air.
to exhale. Now, breathe out, then breathe in. The doctor told me to breathe out slowly.
breathe something in
to take something into the lungs, such as air, medicinal vapors, gas, etc. Breathe the vapor in slowly. It will help your cold. Breathe in that fresh air!
breathe something out
to exhale something. At last, he breathed his last breath out, and that was the end. Breathe out your breath slowly.
Also, breathe easily or freely . Relax, feel relieved from anxiety, stress, or tension. For example, Now that exams are over with, I can breathe easy, or Whenever I'm back in the mountains, I can breathe freely again. This idiom originally (late 1500s) was put as breathe again, implying that one had stopped breathing (or held one's breath) while feeling anxious or nervous. Shakespeare had it in King John (4:2): "Now I breathe again aloft the flood." The variant dates from the first half of the 1800s.
1. Room or time in which to breathe, as in In that crowded hall, there was hardly any breathing space. Previously this term was put as breathing room. [Mid-1600s]
2. A rest or pause. For example, I can't work at this all day; I need some breathing space. This usage replaced the earlier breathing while. [Mid-1600s]
be breathing fire
If someone is breathing fire, they are very angry about something. A highly emotional time will have you breathing fire at one moment and in tears at another. One Democratic legislator who was breathing fire over the Weinberger indictment yesterday was Brooks.
be breathing down someone's neck
1. In a race or other competitive situation, if someone is breathing down your neck, they are close behind you and may soon catch up with you or beat you. I took the lead with Colin Chapman breathing down my neck in his Lotus Eleven. Both players have talented rivals breathing down their necks.
2. If someone is breathing down your neck, they are closely watching and checking everything that you do. Most farmers have bank managers breathing down their necks, so everything has to have an economic reason. Lawyers have been working into the night to complete legal documents, with civil servants breathing down their necks.
If you have some breathing space, you have some time when you do not have to deal with something difficult, and which may give you time and energy to deal with it better in the future. I spent seven happy months there, and it gave us both a breathing space in which to plan for the future. Even if the boarding school didn't help Louise, at least the family would get a breathing space.
breathe firebe fiercely angry.
The implied comparison in this expression is with a fire-breathing dragon.
a ˈbreathing spacea time for resting between two periods of effort; pause: This holiday will give me a bit of breathing space before I start my new job.
1. To inhale: Don't forget to breathe in and hold your breath before you jump into the water!
2. To take something into the lungs by inhaling: My lungs are unhealthy because I've been breathing in smoke from the factory for so many years. There is poisonous gas here; don't breathe it in.
1. To exhale: Breathe out slowly, and you will relax more easily.
2. To expel something from the lungs by exhaling: I closed my eyes and breathed out a sigh. The yoga instructor told everyone to take a big breath, hold it for ten seconds, and then breathe it out.
(Well,) pardon me for living!and Excuse me for breathing! and Excuse me for living!
tv. I am SOOO sorry! (A very sarcastic response to a rebuke, seeming to regret the apparent offense of even living.) A: You are blocking my view. Please move. B: Well, pardon me for living! You say you were here first? Well excuse me for breathing!
See also: pardon
Excuse me for breathing!verb
See also: excuse