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“Hitched breath” — Meaning, Content & Examples

“Hitched breath” — Meaning, Content & Examples

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Expressions in English often seen arbitrary, if not nonsensical.

What is a hot minute, for instance? And how on earth can you stare into the abyss?

Sometimes, though, English expressions actually do make sense. For an example, let’s explore the meaning of the phrase “hitched breath.”

What is the meaning of the expression “hitched breath”?

The expression “hitched breath” is an adjectival phrase that refers to the sensation of your breath skipping a beat. You can also use similar expressions, “skipped breath,” “missed breath,” and “caught breath.”

The part of speech and meaning of hitched

The word “hitched” is an adjective meaning “to change the position of something with a sudden motion.”

For example, if you try to put a cover over your car to protect it from the rain, but the cover keeps getting stuck, you might try to free it with several rapid tugs.

Another way to describe what you’ve done to the cover is to say that you hitched it.

Hitched, like all adjectives, can be used to describe a noun.

In order to apply an adjective’s meaning to something else, you simply place it in front of the word you want to modify.

In this case, since the breath is what’s hitching, we end up with the expression “hitched breath.”

What hitched breath feels like

It might be strange to think of breath as something that has a position or something that can move.

If you think about the rhythm of your breaths, however, this saying makes perfect sense.

Have you ever felt like your breath suddenly went missing and then came back again s second later? Like your breath was stuck on something for a second before coming loose?

That’s the feeling described by the expression “hitched breath.”

How to use hitched breath in a sentence

To use the expression “hitched breath” in a sentence, place the word “a” in front of it to create the adjectival phrase “a hitched breath.”

Then you can place this anywhere in the sentence that makes grammatical sense, usually after a verb like “had” or “noticed.”

You can also reverse the order of the words to use the word “hitched” as a verb instead of an adjective.

This has the same meaning but can sound more natural in some sentences, especially if you are trying to describe the feeling of having your breath hitch.

Some words, like basic business English vocabulary, have meanings relevant to a specific field.

“Hitched breath” doesn’t carry any specific medical meaning, however. Sometimes your breath can hitch for no reason, and sometimes you can just get so focused on something that you forget to breathe for a moment.

This can result in a hitched breath.


“Sherry was nervous about the upcoming concert. She was having trouble sleeping and every now and then noticed a hitched breath.”

In this sentence, “hitched breath” is used as an adjectival phrase (see our guide on clauses vs phrases) to describe Sherry’s feeling of nervousness.

“My breath hitched as I walked through the office door. Right. I reminded myself that I needed to breathe, or I would never convince my boss to give me a raise.”

Here, the expression is used as a verb phrase. The speaker mentions that their breath “hitched.” Hitched is not used as a transitive verb here so no object is required.

Synonyms for hitched breath

As with most English expressions, there are a number of other ways to say, “hitched breath.” Most of these involve other words for the jerking, tugging feeling of a hitched breath.

Caught breath

If your breath feels like it’s stuck on something and won’t come loose, you can say your breath “caught” on something.

Unlike “hitched breath,” this version sounds a little odd as an adjective. A caught breath is eventually released, after all.

Skipped breath

Alternatively, you can say you had a skipped breath.

Think of the idea of your breath as a rhythm. Skipping a beat results in a “skipped breath.” You could also say you noticed “a skipped breath,” just like with the expression “hitched breath.”

Missed breath

Perhaps the most easy to understand expression of the set is to simply say you had a missed breath.

Unlike the other versions of this saying, the verb phrase looks a little different. Because of grammatical reasons, you need to say, “I missed a breath” instead of “My breath missed.”

That’s because the person is the subject of this version of the expression, rather than the breath itself