Breath and Breathe

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:

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. To allow gas or moisture to pass through. To impart (often used figuratively).

A Quick Test

A Trick to Spot Breathe

Native English speakers only tend to confuse breath and breathe in writing. Therefore, if you use the e on the end of breathe to remind you that the ea is pronounced EE (i.e., breathe rhymes with seethe), then you will eliminate this error.


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See Also

What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words