Don’t hold your breath

Don’t hold your breath is an idiom that has been in use since the 1800s, but its use was not widespread until the mid-1900s. We will examine the meaning of the idiom don’t hold your breath, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Don’t hold your breath is an admonition not to count on something happening; not to expect that something will come to pass; that something they are anticipating is unlikely to occur. The idea is that one will die from holding his breath before the situation in question will happen. The idiom don’t hold your breath originated in America, and may be related to an idiom derived from Shakespeare: to wait with bated breath. The word bated is an abbreviation of the word abated, meaning to lessen in severity or amount, or to hold one’s breath. People often hold their breaths when stressed or excited.

Examples

But don’t hold your breath waiting on an arrest or conviction of the four Minneapolis police officers who were fired as a result of Floyd’s death. (The Salina Journal)

In a perfect world politicians on both sides of the aisle would be working on such comprehensive reform, but don’t hold your breath waiting for meaningful legislation any time soon, especially in an election year. (The Daily Inter Lake)

Well, don’t hold your breath, because it isn’t going to happen! (The Daily Press)