What does “took my breath away” mean?

Uncover the origins and common usage scenarios of the phrase 'took my breath away,' commonly used to describe something stunning or emotionally overwhelming. Learn more!

Understanding the Phrase

Took my breath away is a common idiomatic expression used to describe something that is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, or overwhelming.

It is often used to express a strong emotional reaction to something that is visually or emotionally stunning.

Below are three brief definitions of the idiom:

  • To cause someone to feel overwhelmed or emotional, often due to something beautiful or surprising.
  • To be so amazed or impressed by something that one cannot speak or breathe properly.
  • To be left speechless or in awe due to something that is stunning or incredible.

Here are three example sentences that use the idiom:

  • “When she walked into the room, she took my breath away with her beauty.”
  • “The view from the top of the mountain took his breath away.”
  • “The surprise party took her breath away and left her speechless.”

Literal vs.

Figurative Meaning

The phrase “took my breath away” is a figurative expression, which means it is not meant to be taken literally.

Although the phrase can be used in a literal sense, such as when someone is out of breath after running or exercising, it is most commonly used to describe a strong emotional reaction to something.

Origins and History

The exact origin of the phrase “took my breath away” is unknown, but it has been in use for hundreds of years.

It is believed to have originated from the physical sensation of being unable to breathe due to strong emotions, such as fear or surprise.

According to the Dictionary of Clichés, the phrase became popular in the 19th century and was often used in literature and poetry to describe a powerful emotional response to something.

Today, the phrase is still commonly used in everyday conversation and in popular culture.

Is “Wet Behind the Ears” an Idiomatic Expression Similar to “Took My Breath Away”?

Yes, “wet behind the ears” is indeed an idiomatic expression.

It is used to describe someone who is inexperienced or naïve.

It has a similar function as “took my breath away,” but the meaning of wet behind the ears is specifically related to someone’s lack of experience.

Common Usage Scenarios

Took my breath away is often used as a form of hyperbole to describe something that is stunningly beautiful, awe-inspiring, or emotionally overwhelming.

It is commonly used to describe natural wonders, such as sunsets, mountains, and waterfalls, as well as man-made creations, such as art, architecture, and music.

Some synonyms of the idiom include “left me speechless,” “blew me away,” and “knocked my socks off.”