in the air


  1. a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and minute amounts of other gases that surrounds the earth and forms its atmosphere.
  2. a stir in the atmosphere; a light breeze.
  3. overhead space; sky: The planes filled the air.
  4. circulation; publication; publicity: to give air to one’s theories.
  5. the general character or complexion of anything; appearance: His early work had an air of freshness and originality.
  6. the peculiar look, appearance, and bearing of a person: There is an air of mystery about him.
  7. airs, affected or unnatural manner; manifestation of pride or vanity; assumed haughtiness: He acquired airs that were insufferable to his friends.
  8. Music.
    1. a tune; melody.
    2. the soprano or treble part.
    3. an aria.
    4. Also Elizabethan art song.
  9. aircraft as a means of transportation: to arrive by air; to ship goods by air.
  10. Informal. air conditioning or an air-conditioning system: The price includes tires, radio, and air.
  11. Sports.
    1. (during an airborne stunt) the height between the ground and an athlete or an athlete with his or her equipment: The BMX course was designed for riders to get good air.
    2. such a jump or other airborne stunt: The snowboarder took first place with four clean airs.
  12. Radio. the medium through which radio waves are transmitted.
  13. Archaic. breath.

verb (used with object)

  1. to expose to the air; give access to the open air; ventilate (often followed by out): We air the bedrooms every day.
  2. to expose ostentatiously; bring to public notice; display: to air one’s opinions; to air one’s theories.
  3. to broadcast or televise.

verb (used without object)

  1. to be exposed to the open air (often followed by out): Open the window and let the room air out.
  2. to be broadcast or televised.


  1. operating by means of air pressure or by acting upon air: an air drill; an air pump.
  2. of or relating to aircraft or to aviation: air industry.
  3. taking place in the air; aerial: air war.
  1. clear the air, to eliminate dissension, ambiguity, or tension from a discussion, situation, etc.: The staff meeting was intended to help clear the air.
  2. get some air,
    1. to take a break from an unpleasant encounter or stifling environment: She walked away from the argument to get some air.
    2. to take a short rest.
  3. get the air, Informal.
    1. to be rejected, as by a lover.
    2. to be dismissed, as by an employer: He had worked only a few days when he got the air.
  4. give (someone) the air, Informal.
    1. to reject, as a lover: He was bitter because she gave him the air.
    2. to dismiss, as an employee.
  5. in the air, in circulation; current: There’s a rumor in the air that we’re moving to a new location.
  6. into thin air, completely out of sight or reach: He vanished into thin air.
  7. off the air,
    1. not broadcasting: The station goes off the air at midnight.
    2. not broadcast; out of operation as a broadcast: The program went off the air years ago.
  8. on the air, in the act of broadcasting; being broadcast: The program will be going on the air in a few seconds.
  9. put on airs, to assume an affected or haughty manner: As their fortune increased, they began to put on airs.
  10. take the air,
    1. to go out-of-doors; take a short walk or ride.
    2. leave, especially hurriedly.
    3. to begin broadcasting.
  11. up in the air,
    1. Also in the air.undecided or unsettled: The contract is still up in the air.
    2. Informal.angry; perturbed: There is no need to get up in the air over a simple mistake.
  12. walk/tread on air, to feel very happy; be elated.

abbreviation for

  1. All India Radio


  1. the mixture of gases that forms the earth’s atmosphere. At sea level dry air has a density of 1.226 kilograms per cubic metre and consists of 78.08 per cent nitrogen, 20.95 per cent oxygen, 0.93 per cent argon, 0.03 per cent carbon dioxide, with smaller quantities of ozone and inert gases; water vapour varies between 0 and 4 per cent and in industrial areas sulphur gases may be present as pollutants
  2. the space above and around the earth; skyRelated adjective: aerial
  3. breeze; slight wind
  4. public expression; utteranceto give air to one’s complaints
  5. a distinctive qualityan air of mystery
  6. a person’s distinctive appearance, manner, or bearing
  7. music
    1. a simple tune for either vocal or instrumental performance
    2. another word for aria
  8. transportation in aircraft (esp in the phrase by air)
  9. an archaic word for breath (def. 1), breath (def. 2), breath (def. 3)
  10. Australian informal the height gained when getting airborne in surfing, snowboarding, etc
  11. clear the air to rid a situation of tension or discord by settling misunderstandings, etc
  12. give someone the air slang to reject or dismiss someone
  13. in the air
    1. in circulation; current
    2. in the process of being decided; unsettled
  14. into thin air leaving no trace behind
  15. off the air not in the act of broadcasting or being broadcast on radio or television
  16. on the air in the act of broadcasting or being broadcast on radio or television
  17. out of thin air or from thin air suddenly and unexpectedly
  18. take the air to go out of doors, as for a short walk or ride
  19. up in the air
    1. uncertain
    2. informalagitated or excited
  20. walk on air to feel elated or exhilarated
  21. (modifier) astrology of or relating to a group of three signs of the zodiac, Gemini, Libra, and AquariusCompare earth (def. 10), fire (def. 24), water (def. 12)


  1. to expose or be exposed to the air so as to cool or freshen; ventilateto air a room
  2. to expose or be exposed to warm or heated air so as to dryto air linen
  3. (tr) to make known publicly; display; publicizeto air one’s opinions
  4. (intr) (of a television or radio programme) to be broadcast


  1. a mountainous region of N central Niger, in the Sahara, rising to 1500 m (5000 ft): a former native kingdom. Area: about 77 700 sq km (30 000 sq miles)Also called: Azbine, Asben

“to expose to open air,” 1520s, from air (n.1). Figurative sense of “to expose, make public” is from 1610s of objects, 1862 of opinions, grievances, etc. Meaning “to broadcast” (originally on radio) is from 1933. Related: Aired; airing.


c.1300, “invisible gases that make up the atmosphere,” from Old French air “atmosphere, breeze, weather” (12c.), from Latin aerem (nominative aer) “air, lower atmosphere, sky,” from Greek aer (genitive aeros) “air” (related to aenai “to blow, breathe”), of unknown origin, possibly from a base *awer- and thus related to aeirein “to raise” and arteria “windpipe, artery” (see aorta) on notion of “lifting, that which rises.” In Homer mostly “thick air, mist;” later “air” as one of the four elements.

Words for “air” in Indo-European languages tend to be associated with wind, brightness, sky. In English, air Replaced native lyft, luft (see loft (n.)). To be in the air “in general awareness” is from 1875; up in the air “uncertain, doubtful” is from 1752. To build castles in the air is from 1590s (in 17c. English had airmonger “one preoccupied with visionary projects”). Broadcasting sense (e.g. on the air) first recorded 1927. To give (someone) the air “dismiss” is from 1900. Air pollution is attested by 1870.


1590s, “manner, appearance” (e.g. an air of mystery); 1650s, “assumed manner, affected appearance” (especially in phrase put on airs, 1781), from French air “look, appearance, mien, bearing, tone” (Old French aire “reality, essence, nature, descent, extraction,” 12c.; cf. debonair), from Latin ager “place, field” (see acre) on notion of “place of origin.”

But some French sources connect this Old French word with the source of air (n.1), and it also is possible these senses in English developed from or were influenced by air (n.1); cf. sense development of atmosphere and Latin spiritus “breath, breeze,” also “high spirit, pride,” and the extended senses of anima.


“melody, tune,” 1580s, from Italian aria (see aria).


  1. A colorless, odorless, tasteless, gaseous mixture, approximately 78 percent nitrogen and approximately 21 percent oxygen with lesser amounts of argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, neon, helium, and other gases.
  2. This mixture, with varying amounts of moisture and particulate matter, enveloping Earth; the atmosphere.
  3. Any of various respiratory gases. No longer in technical use.

  1. The colorless, odorless, tasteless mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth. Air consists of about 78 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen, with the remaining part made up mainly of argon, carbon dioxide, neon, helium, methane, and krypton in decreasing order of volume. Air also contains varying amounts of water vapor, particulate matter such as dust and soot, and chemical pollutants.

In addition to the following idiom, also see castles in the air; leave hanging (in the air); nose in the air; up in the air.


In circulation, in people’s thoughts. For example, There’s a rumor in the air that they’re closing, or Christmas is in the air. [Second half of 1800s] Also see in the wind.


See up in the air. [Mid-1700s]

In addition to the idiom beginning with air

  • air one’s grievances

also see:

  • breath of fresh air
  • castles in the air
  • clear the air
  • give someone the air
  • hot air
  • in the air
  • into (out of) thin air
  • nose in the air
  • off the air
  • put on airs
  • up in the air
  • walk on air
  • wash (air) one’s dirty linen
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