breathe (briːð)

1. to take a pause; rest

2. to take air into the lungs and expel it; inhale and exhale; respire

3. to move or blow gently, as air

4. to speak softly; whisper

5. to live; exist

( res·pi·rar )


breath (brɛθ)

1. the capacity to breathe; the act or process of breathing; respiration

2. a single act of breathing

3. the air inhaled and exhaled in respiration

4. the vapour, heat, or odour of exhaled air

5. a whisper or soft sound

( fô·le·go )


These two often confused words have been hovering in my mind for the last few weeks. As I try to understand why they’re so attractive to me, I realise that, as much related as they are, breath and breathe give me opposite feelings. And I won’t even mention the fact that I get clearly puzzled by the number of uses and forms they can take, to the point that it makes finding “the” most accurate translation a real challenge.

What intrigues me the most, though, is that while breathe seems to carry a (highly desired) sense of peace, breath brings me this strange anxiety that becomes almost uncomfortable. Isn’t it weird? Not knowing if that’s the cause, it is certainly an influence the fact that the th is soft in breathe and dry in breath. As if the first one came with ease and the second did not. Maybe because my heart automatically chooses to translate breathe as respirar and breath as fôlego.

If you can, breathe. When it gets hard, just catch your breath. And then start all over again.

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