Difference Between Breath and Breathe

Main Difference – Breath vs. Breathe

Breath and breathe are two words that sometimes confuse writers. However, this confusion occurs mainly in writing as the pronunciation of the words, unlike the spellings, is not similar. The main difference between breath and breathe is that breath is a noun whereas breathe is a verb. Breath refers to the air that is taken in and expelled during respiration whereas breathe refers to the process of inhaling and exhaling.

Breath – Meaning and Usage

Breath is a noun that refers to the air taken in and expelled from the lungs, during respiration. Though breath is often confused with its verb breathe in writing, in spoken language, it is easy to distinguish the two words. This is because breath is pronounced as /brɛθ/. It rhymes with death. The following examples will illustrate how this noun is used in sentences.

By the time I reached the finish line, I was gasping for breath.

He drew in a long breath and went under the water.

Her breath smelled of peppermint.

Take a deep breath and try to concentrate.

The old lady stood motionless for a moment, trying to catch her breath.

Breath can refer to a slight movement of air. In addition, it can sometimes refer to a sign, hint or suggestion.

The weather was calm, not a breath of wind

By including the characters of these two young lovers, the writer has introduced a breath of romance into the novel.Difference Between Breath and Breathe

Breathe – Meaning and Usage

Breath is pronounced as /briːð/and rhymes with bequeath and seethe. Breathe refers to the process of inhaling and exhaling. Breathing is a regular physiological process. However, there can be slight differences in meaning according to the usage of the word. For example,

“You can take me with you” she breathed.

Here, breath means saying something with quite an intensity. In this case, breathe is similar to murmur, sigh, whisper, etc.

Likewise, there can be different variations in this verb’s meaning. Breathe can also refer to,

Allow gas or moisture to pass through

I used tissue paper to wrap it because paper breathes.

In addition, breathe is used in many phrases and idioms as well. Some examples include

Breathe life into something – to fill with energy and enthusiasm

Not breathe a word  – to remain silent about something

Breathe (freely) again – relax after being tensed about something

Read the following sentences and try to understand these variances in meaning.

“Thank God we didn’t get caught.”, he breathed in relief.

Your presence pollutes the very air we breathe.

Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

I promised not to breathe a word of what happened that day.Main Difference - Breath vs Breathe

Difference Between Breath and Breathe

Part of Speech

Breath is a noun.

Breathe is a verb.

Meaning

Breath refers to the air taken in and expelled from the lungs.

Breathe refers to the process of inhaling and exhaling.

Pronunciation

Breath is pronounced as /brɛθ/ and rhymes with death.

Breathe is pronounced as  /briːð/and rhymes with bequeath and seethe.Difference Between Breath and Breathe- infographic

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