Under One's Breath

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Meaning of Idiom 'Under One's (your, his, her) Breath'

Under one's breath means to speak very softly, in a whisper or undertone. ((bibcige heritage)),2


When someone is said to speak "under their breath" the connotation is usually that they do not intend other people to hear and are speaking to themselves. Another common way to express this is that they are muttering.


"This movie is going to be great!" said Susan. "Sure, if you like musicals," said Jerry, under his breath.

"Bobby cursed under his breath as his boss walked away."

"Just before the date ended, Frank said something under his breath that Katie did not hear."


This idiom was first recorded in print in 1832. It seems to allude to speaking in so low a voice that it is even quieter than breathing. 1

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.

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