What Does Breathe a Sigh of Relief Mean?

Breathe a Sigh of Relief Meaning

Definition: To stop worrying; to know that something bad has ended.

People will breathe a sigh of relief when they know that something terrible has ended.

Breathing a sigh of relief is a sign that there is no more need to worry and that one can begin to relax. If things were chaotic and out of the ordinary, they are now able to go back to the regular, orderly way they were before.

To breathe a sigh of relief is to express a great amount of reduced stress.

Origin of Breathe a Sigh of Relief

When someone is relieved, it is common to take a deep breath or sigh literally. The phrase breathe a sigh of relief refers to this literal action.

breathing a sigh of reliefWhile people may literally breathe a sigh of relief, this phrase can also now be used figuratively.

Someone might say that he or she can finally breathe a sigh of relief after completing a strenuous task or a frustrating event comes to an end. Although a literal breath has not necessarily taken place, the meaning is that one feels relieved enough to have taken a figurative breath.

Examples of Breathe a Sigh of Relief

breathes a sigh of reliefPeople use this phrase when something is completed, and they can finally relax. For example, when a writer has had a huge amount of work to complete and finally finished the last line on his final paper, he may say that he hit the save button and breathed a sigh of relief.

People may also refer to the future when using this phrase. While working late nights in an effort to push out a new product, an employee might say,

  • I am looking forward to being finished with this project. I will finally breathe a sigh of relief when it is done next Friday!

More Examples

  • When their children safely return home, they breathe a sigh of relief. –Chicago Sun-Times
  • People traveling through O’Hare International Airport this week can breathe a sigh of relief as airport workers announced Monday they won’t walk off the job until Nov. 29. –Chicago Tonight


People breathe sighs of relief when something frustrating or tiresome has been completed.