the mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth and that we breathe
I went outside to get some fresh air.
noun (no plural)
1 the mixture of gases that surrounds the earth and that you take in through your nose and mouth when you breathe:
Please open a window — I need some fresh air.
2 the space around and above things:
He threw the ball up into the air.
3 travel or transport in an aircraft:
It's more expensive to travel by air than by train.
an air ticket
on air, on the air on the radio or on television:
This radio station is on the air 24 hours a day.
I. air1 S1 W1 /eə $ er/ BrE AmE noun
[Sense 1-7, 9: Date: 1200-1300; Language: Old French; Origin: Latin aer, from Greek]
[Sense 8: Date: 1500-1600; Origin: Probably a translation of Italian aria; ⇨ ↑aria]
1. GAS [uncountable] the mixture of gases around the Earth, that we breathe:
Let’s go outside and get some fresh air.
You need to put some air in the tyres.
in the air
There was a strong smell of burning in the air. ⇨ a breath of fresh air at ↑breath(2)
2. SPACE ABOVE THE GROUND the air the space above the ground or around things
into the air
Flames leapt into the air.
through the air
He fell 2,000 metres through the air without a parachute.
a) by air travelling by, or using, a plane:
I’d prefer to travel by air.
b) relating to or involving planes:
the victims of Britain’s worst air disaster
Air travel was growing rapidly.
air traffic congestion
His brother died in an air crash.
4. be in the air
a) if a feeling is in the air, a lot of people feel it at the same time:
There was a sense of excitement in the air.
b) to be going to happen very soon:
Change is in the air.
5. APPEARANCE [singular] if something or someone has an air of confidence, mystery etc, they seem confident, mysterious etc
She had an air of quiet confidence.
She looked at him with a determined air.
6. be up in the air if something is up in the air, no decision has been made about it yet:
Our trip is still very much up in the air.
7. be on/off (the) air to be broadcasting on the radio or television at the present moment, or to stop broadcasting:
We’ll be on air in three minutes.
8. MUSIC [countable] a simple tune, often used in the title of a piece of ↑classical music
9. airs [plural] a way of behaving that shows someone thinks they are more important than they really are
put on airs/give yourself airs
Trudy is always putting on airs.
an actor with no airs and graces
10. be walking/floating on air to feel very happy
⇨ ↑hot air, ↑on-air, ⇨ clear the air at ↑clear2(15), ⇨ disappear/vanish into thin air at ↑thin1(15), ⇨ out of thin air at ↑thin1(16)
• • •
▪ fresh She opened the window to let in some fresh air.
▪ clean London’s air is cleaner than it has been at any time since 1585.
▪ warm/hot Warm air rises and is replaced by cooler and denser air. | I felt a sudden rush of hot air.
▪ cool/cold The air had turned a little cooler.
▪ crisp (=pleasantly cool) the crisp autumn air
▪ clear I looked up to the stars in the clear night air.
▪ damp/humid Damp air causes condensation.
▪ polluted The air in Mexico City is heavily polluted.
▪ stale (=not fresh and often full of smoke) The room was full of stale air and tobacco smoke.
▪ the air is thin (=there is less oxygen because you are in a high place) People cannot live up there because the air is too thin and there is not enough oxygen to breathe.
▪ the morning/evening/night air He stepped out and breathed in the cold morning air.
▪ the sea/mountain/country air the salty smell of the sea air
▪ the still air (=air in which there is no wind) Smoke from the chimneys hung in the still air.
■ air + NOUN
▪ air pollution Most air pollution is caused by cars.
▪ the air quality The air quality is very poor on hot days.
▪ the air pressure The air pressure had dropped.
▪ a breath of air I went outside for a breath of air.
▪ a rush/blast/stream of air There was a cold rush of air as she wound down her window.
▪ a current of air The birds are able to glide on a current of warm air.
▪ breathe in the air She breathed in the cool mountain air.
▪ fight/gasp for air (=try to breathe with difficulty) He clutched his throat as he fought for air.
▪ let in some air (=let fresh air into a room) It would be nice to open the door and let in some air.
▪ put air into something (=fill a tyre, balloon etc with air) I need to put some air in the tyres.
air [air airs aired airing] noun, verb [eə(r)] [er]
1. uncountable the mixture of gases that surrounds the earth and that we breathe
• air pollution
• Let's go out for some fresh air.
• I need to put some air in my tyres.
• currents of warm air
• whales coming up for air (= in order to breathe)
• The act lays down a minimum standard for air quality.
2. uncountable (usually the air) the space above the ground or that is around things
• I kicked the ball high in/into the air.
• Spicy smells wafted through the air.
• Music filled the night air.
see also open air
3. uncountable the space above the earth where planes fly
• It only takes three hours by air (= in a plane).
• air travel/traffic
• The temple was clearly visible from the air.
• A surprise air attack (= from aircraft) was launched at night.
4. singular the particular feeling or impression that is given by sb/sth; the way sb does sth
• The room had an air of luxury.
• She looked at him with a defiant air.
• There was an air of complete confidence about her.
5. countable (old-fashioned) (often used in the title of a piece of music) a tune
• Bach's Air on a G string
6. airs plural (disapproving) a way of behaving that shows that sb thinks that they are more important, etc. than they really are
• I hate the way she puts on airs.
more at a breath of (fresh) air at breath, (build) castles in the air at castle, clear the air at clear v., with your nose in the air at nose n., pluck sth out of the air at pluck v., disappear, vanish, etc. into thin airout of thin air at thin adj.
Middle English (in senses 1-3 of noun): from Old French air, from Latin aer, from Greek aēr, denoting the gas. Senses 4 and 6 of the noun are from French air, probably from Old French aire ‘site, disposition’, from Latin ager, agr- ‘field’ (influenced by senses 1-3). Sense 5 of the noun comes from Italian aria, from Latin aer ‘air’.
• He drew in another breath of air.
• He had an air of mystery about him.
• He leaned over to Melissa with an air of confidentiality.
• He punched the air in triumph.
• I hate the way she puts on airs.
• I kicked the ball high into the air.
• I sat for a moment, inhaling the fresh forest air.
• It only takes three hours by air.
• It's difficult carrying such heavy loads in the thin air of the mountains.
• Land crabs breathe air and cannot swim.
• Nothing moved in the still air.
• She gulped in the fresh mountain air.
• She was gasping for air as she ran out of the burning house.
• Spicy smells wafted through the air.
• Suddenly a scream pierced the air.
• The air was sweet with incense.
• The air was thick with cigarette smoke.
• The argument helped to clear the air between them.
• The cool night air wafted in the open windows.
• The dog stretched and sniffed the air.
• The hideout is clearly visible from the air.
• The market is held in the open air.
• The tang of some wild herb hung in the air.
• The two planes collided in mid-air.
• There are regulatory requirements for clean air and water.
• They have developed an engine powered by compressed air.
• Three buildings were bombed last night in an air strike on the city.
• We are cleared by Air Traffic Control to taxi and take off.
• We felt a blast of cold air as she opened the door.
• We need some fresh air in this stuffy room!
• You have an air of authority.
• equipment to monitor air quality
• the musty smell of stale air
• the polluted air of our cities
• warm currents of air
• A surprise air attack was launched at night.
• air travel/traffic/fares
Idioms: airs and graces ▪ in the air ▪ on air ▪ up in the air ▪ walk on air
Derived: air out ▪ air something out
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 4th Edition
air / eə r / / er / noun (GAS)
A2 [ U ] the mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth and that we breathe:
I went outside to get some fresh air.
You should put some air in your tyres - they look flat to me.
the air B2 [ S ] the space above the ground, especially high above the ground:
The air was filled with the scent of roses.
Throw your gun down and put your hands in the air.
The police fired into the air to clear the demonstrators from the streets.
air / eə r / / er / noun [ U ] (AIRCRAFT)
A2 travel in an aircraft:
I don't travel much by air.
an air crash/disaster
air / eə r / / er / noun [ S ] (MANNER)
C2 manner or appearance:
She has an air of confidence about her.
air / eə r / / er / noun (BROADCAST)
be on/off (the) air C1 If a programme or a person is on/off (the) air, they are/are not broadcasting on radio or television:
The radio station is on air from 6 a.m.
As soon as the war started, any broadcasts with a military theme were taken off the air.
air / eə r / / er / noun [ C ] (TUNE)
a simple tune:
Bach's Air on a G String
© Cambridge University Press 2013
airs, airing, aired
1) N-UNCOUNT Air is the mixture of gases which forms the earth's atmosphere and which we breathe.
Draughts help to circulate air...
Keith opened the window and leaned out into the cold air.
...water and air pollutants.
2) N-SING: the N The air is the space around things or above the ground.
Government troops broke up the protest by firing their guns in the air...
People's cigarette smoke seemed to hang in the air.
3) N-UNCOUNT: usu N n, by N Air is used to refer to travel in aircraft.
Air travel will continue to grow at about 6% per year...
The United Nations have been unable to distribute food around the country, other than by air.
4) N-COUNT: usu with supp An air is a simple tune which can be easily recognized and remembered. [OLD-FASHIONED]
5) N-SING: with supp, oft N of n If you say that someone or something has a particular air, you mean that they give this general impression.
Jennifer took a drag on her cigarette, regarding him with an air of faint amusement...
The meal gave the occasion an almost festive air.
6) N-PLURAL (disapproval) If you say that someone is putting on airs or giving themselves airs, you are criticizing them for behaving as if they are better than other people. [INFORMAL]
We're poor and we never put on airs.
7) VERB If a broadcasting company airs a television or radio programme, they show it on television or broadcast it on the radio. [mainly AM]
[V n] Tonight PBS will air a documentary called `Democracy In Action'.
airing N-SING Switzer said his program and his university could not tolerate the airing of this material.
8) VERB If you air your opinions, you make them known to people.
[V n] They sat for more than six hours, and both sides agreed they had aired all their differences...
[V n] The whole issue was thoroughly aired at the meeting.
airing N-SING a N While we're able to broach the subject of sex, money rarely gets an airing.
9) VERB If you air a room or building, you let fresh air into it.
[V n] One day a week her mother systematically cleaned and aired each room.
airing N-SING a N Open all the windows of the bedroom and give it a good airing.
10) VERB If you air clothing or bedding, you put it somewhere warm to make sure that it is completely dry.
[V n] When the shirts were clean, I ironed them myself, aired them and placed them in drawers in his room.
11) PHRASE: V inflects If you do something to clear the air, you do it in order to resolve any problems or disagreements that there might be.
...an inquiry just to clear the air and settle the facts of the case.
12) PHRASE (disapproval) If you refer to someone's airs and graces, you mean that they behave in a way that shows that they think they are more important than other people.
The old cliché of the customer being always right is what gives them airs and graces.
13) PHRASE If something is in the air it is felt to be present, but it is not talked about.
There was great excitement in the air...
She walked away and left the question hanging in the air.
14) PHRASE: v-link PHR, PHR after v If someone is on the air, they are broadcasting on radio or television. If a programme is on the air, it is being broadcast on radio or television. If it is off the air, it is not being broadcast.
Singer Dani Behr, 17, is going on the air as presenter of Channel 4's `The Word'...
Rockwell hopes the program can be on the air within a year...
This message did not reach me until after the programme went off the air.
15) PHRASE: PHR after v If someone or something disappears into thin air, they disappear completely. If someone or something appears out of thin air, they appear suddenly and mysteriously.
`But where could they have gone?' he demanded. `They can't just vanish into thin air!'...
He had materialized out of thin air; I had not seen or heard him coming.
16) PHRASE: v-link PHR If you say that a decision or a situation is up in the air, you mean that it has not yet been completely settled or planned.
He told reporters today that the president's trip to Moscow is up in the air.
17) PHRASE: V inflects If you say that you are walking on air or floating on air, you mean that you feel extremely happy about something.
As soon as I know I'm in the team it's like I'm walking on air.
2air verb airs; aired; air·ing
1 a : to place something in an open area where there is a lot of moving air to make it cool, dry, or clean
• air a blanket
• air damp clothing
• The blankets were left outside to air.
b : to allow air from the outside to enter something (such as a room) so that it becomes fresher or cleaner
• She opened the windows to air the room.
- usually + out in U.S. English
• She opened the windows to air out the room.
• air out a closet
- usually + out in U.S. English
• She opened the windows to let the room air out.
2 [+ obj] : to make (something) known in public : to state (something) publicly
• The company had a meeting so that employees could air their complaints/grievances.
• publicly airing their differences
• Let's not air our dirty laundry [=discuss our problems, make our problems known] in public.
3 : to broadcast something on radio or television
• air a program
• The interview will be aired tomorrow.
• The program airs daily.
• The interview will air tomorrow.
1air /ˈeɚ/ noun, pl airs
a : the invisible mixture of gases (such as nitrogen and oxygen) that surrounds the Earth and that people and animals breathe
• These laws are meant to produce cleaner air.
• A delicious smell filled the air.
• I like to dine outdoors in the open air.
• cool/warm air
• fresh air
• a sudden gust of air [=wind]
• polluted air
• stale air
• the hot summer air
• He can't breathe! Everybody move back and give him some air!
• High in the mountains the air is thin and it can be hard to breathe.
• He pumped air into the bicycle tire.
• My keys seem to have vanished/disappeared into thin air. [=to have vanished in a very sudden and mysterious way]
• He seemed to appear out of thin air. [=in a very sudden and mysterious way]
- see also a breath of fresh air at breath
b : the space or sky that is filled with air
• land, water, and air
• The city is wonderful seen from the air.
• the fish of the sea and the birds of the air
• The balloon rose up into the air and then floated through/in the air.
• There has been heavy fighting on the ground and in the air.
2 [noncount] : methods of travel that involve flying
• travel by air [=by flying in airplanes]
- often used before another noun
• an air attack
• air safety
• air travel/travelers
3 [singular] : a quality that a person or thing has
• a dignified air
- often + of
• an air of dignity
• The new furniture has given the hotel an air of luxury.
• He has an air of mystery about him. [=he has a mysterious quality]
4 [count] old-fashioned : a song or tune
• a pleasing air
5 [noncount] US : air-conditioning
• a house with central air
clear the air : to talk about problems, feelings, etc., in order to reach agreement or understanding
• They cleared the air (between them) by discussing their differences.
floating on air or walking on air : feeling very happy
• After he won the election, he was walking on air.
give yourself airs or put on airs : to act in a way that shows you think you are better than other people
• Some of her old friends have accused her of putting on airs since she became wealthy.
• She's very rich, but she doesn't give herself airs.
✦In British English, the phrase airs and graces describes an overly superior or proud way of behaving.
• She's very rich, but she doesn't give herself any airs and graces. = She doesn't have any airs and graces. = She doesn't put on any airs and graces.
hang in the air
- see hang in at 1hang
in the air
1 : felt or sensed by many people
• There was a great sense of anticipation in the air as game time approached.
2 : expected to happen soon
• Many changes are in the air.
nose in the air
- see 1nose
off the air of a radio or television station, program, etc. : not being broadcast
• The station is now off the air.
• They took him off the air because of his extreme views.
• It was my favorite show, but it went off the air [=stopped being broadcast] last year.
on the air also on air of a radio or television station, program, etc. : being broadcast
• The interview will be on the air tomorrow. [=the interview will air tomorrow; the interview will be broadcast tomorrow]
• an interview being shown on air
• a show that first came/went on the air [=started being broadcast] five years ago
• The President went on the air to defend his policies.
up in the air : not yet settled or decided
• Our vacation plans are still up in the air.
- air·less /ˈeɚləs/ adj
• a hot, airless room