Breath or Breathe?

by Craig Shrives

The Difference between "Breath" and "Breathe"

"Breath" and "breathe" are easy to confuse because their spellings are so similar.
  • Breath. "Breath" (which rhymes with "death") is the air inhaled or exhaled during breathing. For example:
    • He took his last breath.
  • Breathe. "Breathe" (which rhymes with "seethe") means to inhale and expel air from the lungs. For example:
    • I can't breathe.
breath or breathe?
"Breath" is a noun. "Breathe" is a verb. (This is why the infographic says "to breathe.")

How to Pronounce "Breath" and "Breathe"

Listen to how "breath" and "breathe" are pronounced:

Ready for the Test?

More about "Breath"

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

If you remember that "breath" rhymes with "death," you will not confuse it with "breathe."

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

More about "Breathe"

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

(1) To inhale and expel air from the lungs.
  • I can't breathe.
  • Is she breathing?
  • (Note that "breathe" drops the "e" when "ing" is added.)
(2) To allow gas or moisture to pass through.
  • The new synthetic material can breathe to prevent moisture building up against the skin.
(3) To impart (often used figuratively).
  • He breathed new life into the project.
  • He breathed a sigh of relief.

A Trick to Spot "Breathe"

The confusion between "breath" and "breathe" occurs only in writing. Therefore, if you use the "e" on the end of "breathe" to remind you that the syllable "ea" is pronounced EE (i.e., "breathe" rhymes with "seethe"), then you will eliminate this error.

Common Terms with "Breath" and "Breathe"

Here are some common terms with the word "breath":
  • bad breath
  • breath control
  • breath droplets
  • breath freshener
  • breath of the Wild (console game)
  • breaths per minute
  • hold your breath
  • a deep breath
  • take my breath away
Here are some common terms with the word "breathe":
  • breathe deeply
  • breathe underwater
  • breathing control
  • (Remember that "breathe" drops the "e" when "ing" is added.)
  • breathing difficulty
  • I can't breathe
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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? 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? bear or bare (witness, the brunt, fruit)? who's or whose? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words

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