What Does Breathe One’s Last Breath Mean?

Breathe One’s Last Breath Meaning

Definition: Someone has died.

This phrase is a euphemism, or a nicer way of saying something, to describe that someone has died.

If someone has died, rather than simply saying, “she died,” people may try to be more polite by saying instead that “she breathed her last breath.”

This phrase may also describe the dramatic moments right before someone dies. When someone is talking with a loved one in the hospital, the conversation finally ends when the loved one breathes his last breath and dies.

Origin of Breathe One’s Last Breath

this is my one last chance to breatheWilliam Shakespeare coined this phrase in his play Henry IV. In Act five, scene two, Shakespeare wrote,

  • Montague has breathed his last.

This phrase means the same as “breathed his last breath,” and the two phrases are now used interchangeably.

Today, people use these phrases to show polite respect for one who has died or to be overly poetic and dramatic in reference to Shakespearean dramas.

Examples of Breathe One’s Last Breath

one last breath meaningIn a dramatic way, people may list several events leading up to a person’s death, finally ending with this phrase.

One might say,

  • The elderly woman grabbed her husband’s hand. Tearing up, she told him that she loved him, and, then, she breathed her last breath.

Someone may also politely say, “Grandma breathed her last” as a way of diplomatically describing Grandma’s death.

Someone may also use this phrase to describe a brush with death. Describing an accident, a rock climber might say,

  • Another climber fell off the face of the cliff and hit his head on a rock at the bottom of the cliffside. I was terrified that he has breathed his last, but CPR was able to revive him while we waited for emergency crews to arrive.

More Examples

  • Hilton has just breathed her last bit of oxygen. –CNN
  • Michael Joseph Lanphere, age 29, breathed his last breath on February 24, 2016. –Chicago Sun-Times


Someone who has breathed their last breath is dead.