Breath and Breathe

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between breath and breathe?

A breath (which rhymes with death) is the air inhaled or exhaled during breathing.

To breathe (rhymes with seethe) means to inhale and expel air from the lungs.

Breath and Breathe

Writers occasionally confuse the words breath and breathe.

Breath

The word breath is a noun that denotes the air either inhaled or exhaled during breathing. Colloquially, it can also mean a short pause (e.g., Take a breath and try again.)

Of note, breath rhymes with death.

Examples:
  • Paul pinched his nose, took a breath and jumped off the boat.
  • He would fight until his last breath.

Breathe

The word breathe (which rhymes with seethe) is a verb with the following closely related meanings:

To inhale and expel air from the lungs.
  • Virtually all fish breathe through gills.
  • Is she breathing?
  • (Note: Breathe drops the e when ing is added.)
To allow gas or moisture to pass through.
  • The new synthetic material can breathe to prevent moisture building up against the skin.
To impart (often used figuratively).
  • He breathed new life into the project.
  • He breathed a sigh of relief.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words