Breath, Breathe

If You Need Air, Don’t Breath In or Breath Out

by Owen Fourie

Breathe in, breathe out. Several different songs have these words in their lyrics. The word breathe is pronounced correctly to rhyme with the word seethe.

If you search for the lyrics, you’ll see that this word is correctly spelled in most instances. There is at least one case where breathe is spelled breath.

So breath in, breath out

Breath in, breath out

What we need to understand is that there are two different words, breath and breathe, and it is important to distinguish them in spelling, pronunciation, and use.


Breathe is a verb. It is the action word that tells us to inhale air and to exhale it.

As noted above, it rhymes with the word seethe.

If you need air, which you do, it is necessary to breathe in and to breathe out. As the title correctly tells you, don’t breath in or breath out if you need air.


Breath is a noun. It is the word that names what is needed by every living human being.

Breath rhymes with the name Seth.

Remember to take a deep breath before you begin an important task and as often as possible while you are engaged in that task.

Relaxation should also begin with a deep breath, and continued deep breathing will help.

Note the word breathing rhymes with seething. Depending on how it is used in a sentence, it could be a noun or a verb.

  • As a noun: Continued deep breathing will help you to relax. (As a noun, it simply adds -ing to breath.)
  • As a verb: She is breathing deeply to help her relaxation. (As a verb, it drops the e from breathe before it adds -ing.)

Take a breath in order to breathe

Perhaps the following rhyme will serve as a memory trick to help you to distinguish between breathe and breath for correct use, spelling, and pronunciation.

Imagine that Seth has really made you mad, but, instead of seething about this, you are urged simply to talk to him.

Take a breath in order to breathe;

Talk to Seth, but please do not seethe.

Now that you are fully aware of the difference between these two words, you may breathe more easily. Go on, relax, and take a deep breath.


If there are other words like breath and breathe that you find confusing, mention them here. Let’s find a way to resolve the problem. Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

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