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Word of the Week


breath · n.
1 air taken into or expelled from the lungs. Ø an inhalation or exhalation of air from the lungs.
2 a slight movement of air.
– PHRASES breath of fresh air a refreshing change. catch one’s breath 1 cease breathing momentarily in surprise or fear. 2 rest after exercise to restore normal breathing. draw breath breathe in. hold one’s breath cease breathing temporarily. out of breath gasping for air, typically after exercise. take breath pause to recover normal breathing. take someone’s breath away astonish or inspire someone with awed respect or delight. under (or below) one’s breath in a very quiet voice. waste one’s breath talk or give advice without effect.
– ORIGIN OE br&th ‘smell, scent’, of Gmc origin; rel. to brood.

This is the noun. The verb is



breathe · v.
1 take air into the lungs and then expel it as a regular physiological process. Ø (of a plant or invertebrate animal) respire or exchange gases.
2 (of wine) be exposed to fresh air.
3 (of material or soil) admit or emit air or moisture.
4 allow (a horse) to rest after exertion.
5 give an impression of: the room breathed an air of hygienic efficiency.
6 (breathe upon) archaic or poetic/literary tarnish or taint.
– PHRASES breathe (freely) again relax after being frightened or tense. breathe down someone’s neck follow closely behind. Ø constantly check up on someone. breathe one’s last die. breathe (new) life into reinvigorate. not breathe a word remain silent about something secret.
– ORIGIN ME (in the sense ‘exhale, steam’): from breath.

The verb tenses are: has/have breathed, am/is breathing, can/will breathe.

This is one where people tend to muddle up the noun and the verb. The verb has the "e" at the end. This is a fairly common distinction within English, but there appear to be growing numbers of people who either don't know what the difference between the noun and verb forms is, or don't know the difference between a noun and a verb. For those who missed this in primary school: a noun is a naming word - it names an object, concept, idea or person; a verb is a doing word - it speaks of an action. In the classic sentence, "The cat sat on the mat", cat and mat are nouns; sat is the verb which tells what the cat was doing.

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