• Air


    • UK IPA: /ɛə(ɹ)/, /ɛː(ɹ)/
    • US enPR: âr, IPA: /ɛəɹ/, /ɛːɹ/
    • Rhymes: -ɛə(r)
    • Homophones: Ayr, ere, heir; Eire one pronunciation; err one pronunciation


    From Middle English air, eir ("gas, atmosphere"), from Anglo-Norman aeir, eyer, Old French aire, eir, from Latin āēr, from Ancient Greek ἀήρ ("wind, atmosphere"). Displaced native Middle English luft, lift ("air") (from Old English lyft ("air, atmosphere")), Middle English loft ("air, upper region") (from Old Norse lopt ("air, sky, loft")). More at lift, loft.

    Full definition of air



    (countable and uncountable; plural airs)
    1. (uncountable, historical, astrology, alchemy, science) The atmospheric substance above the surface of the earth which animals breathe, formerly considered to be a single substance, one of the four basic elements of ancient philosophy and one of the five basic elements of Eastern traditions.
    2. (uncountable, physics, meteorology) That substance, now understood as the mixture of gases comprising the earth's atmosphere.
      The karate instructor said "air is the one thing you can't go five minutes without; when you spar, you have to remember to breathe."
    3. (usually with the) The apparently open space above the ground; the mass of this substance around the earth.
      The flock of birds took to the air.
      There was a tension in the air which made me suspect an approaching storm.
    4. A breeze; a gentle wind.
    5. A feeling or sense.
      to give it an air of artistry and sophistication
      • 1900, Charles W. Chesnutt, The House Behind the Cedars, Chapter I,The girl stooped to pluck a rose, and as she bent over it, her profile was clearly outlined. She held the flower to her face with a long-drawn inhalation, then went up the steps, crossed the piazza, opened the door without knocking, and entered the house with the air of one thoroughly at home.
    6. A sense of poise, graciousness, or quality.
      • 1815, Jane Austen, Emma, :"He is very plain, undoubtedly--remarkably plain:--but that is nothing compared with his entire want of gentility. I had no right to expect much, and I did not expect much; but I had no idea that he could be so very clownish, so totally without air. I had imagined him, I confess, a degree or two nearer gentility."
    7. (usually plural) Pretension; snobbishness; pretence that one is better than others.
      putting on airs
      • 1922, Ben Travers, A Cuckoo in the Nest Chapter 1, He read the letter aloud. Sophia listened with the studied air of one for whom, even in these days, a title possessed some surreptitious allurement.
    8. (music) A song, especially a solo; an aria.
      • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, :"If I," said Mr. Collins, "were so fortunate as to be able to sing, I should have great pleasure, I am sure, in obliging the company with an air; for I consider music as a very innocent diversion, and perfectly compatible with the profession of a clergyman..."
    9. (informal) Nothing; absence of anything.
    10. An air conditioner or the processed air it produces. Can be a mass noun or a count noun depending on context; similar to hair.
      Could you turn on the air?
      Hey, did you mean to leave the airs on all week while you were on vacation?
    11. (obsolete, chemistry) Any specific gas.
    12. (snowboarding, skateboarding, motor sports) A jump in which one becomes airborne.

    Related terms


    1. To bring (something) into contact with the air, so as to freshen or dry it.
    2. To let fresh air into a room or a building, to ventilate.It's getting quite stuffy in this room: let's open the windows and air it.
    3. To discuss varying viewpoints on a given topic.
      • 1917, National Geographic, :Thus, in spite of all opposition, the rural and urban assemblies retained the germ of local government, and in spite of the dual control, as the result of which much of their influence was nullified, they did have a certain value in airing abuses and suggesting improvements.
    4. To broadcast, as with a television show.


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