curse (someone) under (one's) breath

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curse (someone) under (one's) breath

To murmur something in such a soft, quiet voice that others cannot hear it distinctly. (Said especially of rude, unpleasant, complaining, or impertinent remarks.) I could hear Bill cursing the boss under his breath as he walked back to his desk after his annual review. If you curse under your breath around me again, I'll tan your hide so quick it will smart for a week!
See also: breath, curse
References in classic literature ?
From some quarter, or other, a rumor had got abroad that Miss Monson's governess was of a noble family, a circumstance that I soon discovered had great influence in New York, doubtless by way of expiation for the rigid democratical notions that so universally pervade its society.
But some say, that in the ephori is absolute power, and that it is their common meal and daily course of life, in which the democratical form is represented.
One tendency appears alike in the philosophical speculation and in the rudest democratical movements, through all the petulance and all the puerility, the wish, namely, to cast aside the superfluous and arrive at short methods; urged, as I suppose, by an intuition that the human spirit is equal to all emergencies, alone, and that man is more often injured than helped by the means he uses.
And the different forms of government make laws democratical, aristocratical, tyrannical, with a view to their several interests; and these laws, which are made by them for their own interests, are the justice which they deliver to their subjects, and him who transgresses them they punish as a breaker of the law, and unjust.
You don't curse them under your breath when the TV people start cutting everyone's speeches short to keep the telecast from running more than 30 minutes beyond its allotted three hours.
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