hold breath

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.

hold (one's) breath

1. To intentionally stop breathing for a short period of time. I can't hold my breath for very long, so I doubt I'll be able to swim down deep enough to grab the rings.
2. To wait for something specific to happen. In this usage, the phrase is usually used in the negative. The electrician said he'd be here before noon, but I won't hold my breath. She wrote a letter of complaint to the airline asking for a refund, but she said she isn't holding her breath.
See also: breath, hold

hold one's breath

1. Lit. to stop breathing for a short period, on purpose. Do you hold your breath when you dive into the water? I can't hold my breath for very long.
2. Fig. to wait or delay until something special happens. (Usually in the negative. See also Don't hold your breath.) I expect the mail to be delivered soon, but I'm not holding my breath. It's often late.
See also: breath, hold