break wind: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘break wind’ mean?

The idiom break wind is an informal expression that means to release gas from the digestive system through the anus, commonly referred to as farting.

Idiom Explorer

The Unveiled Gust

Break wind is an idiom that refers to the act of passing gas or releasing flatulence. This idiom is commonly used in informal and colloquial language. It is believed to have originated in the English language, specifically in the United Kingdom, although it is now recognized and used in various English-speaking countries.

The idiom break wind is a euphemism that serves as a polite way to describe the bodily function of flatulence. It is often used in polite company or in situations where a more formal or discreet term is preferred. The idiom is based on the literal action of breaking (or releasing) wind, where wind is a metaphorical term for gas expelled from the body.

While the specific origin of the idiom break wind is uncertain, the concept of flatulence and its associated expressions can be traced back to ancient times. Many cultures throughout history have had their own idiomatic phrases and euphemisms to refer to this bodily function. The use of euphemisms for flatulence is often tied to social etiquette and the avoidance of direct or vulgar language.

Idioms related to flatulence can be found in various languages and cultures, highlighting the universal human experience and the need for creative expressions to discuss taboo or sensitive topics. These idiomatic expressions often incorporate references to air, wind, or gases, reflecting the physical nature of flatulence.

The idiom break wind is not limited to specific regions or social groups. It is widely understood and used in English-speaking countries, including the United States, where it has become a part of everyday language. The idiom is used in both informal and formal contexts, depending on the social setting and the level of formality required.

She couldn't contain her laughter after flatulence.

One related idiom to break wind is "let one go." This idiom carries a similar meaning to break wind and is often used in casual conversations or humorous contexts. It implies releasing flatulence, emphasizing the act of freely letting gas escape from the body.

It is worth noting that despite its widespread usage and acceptance, the idiom break wind may still be considered impolite or inappropriate in certain situations or cultural settings. As with any language choice, individuals should exercise discretion and sensitivity when using this idiom to ensure it is appropriate for the given context.

Another related idiom to break wind is "take a shit." While this idiom specifically refers to the act of defecating, it is often used in a figurative sense to describe relieving oneself or letting go of something unwanted or burdensome. In the context of break wind, this idiom can be used to emphasize the release of gas and the relief associated with it.

Additionally, the idiom break wind is sometimes expressed as "fart in a windstorm." This colorful expression adds an element of exaggeration and humor to the act of passing gas. It conveys the idea of releasing a significant amount of gas in a large and uncontrollable manner, akin to how wind in a storm can blow forcefully.

Another related idiom is "blow chunks," which describes the act of vomiting or regurgitating food. While not directly related to break wind, this idiom shares a similar theme of bodily functions and releasing something from the body. It adds a humorous and somewhat graphic element to the discussion of bodily functions.

Lastly, the idiom break wind can also be associated with the phrase "blow off steam." This idiom is commonly used to express the act of releasing or venting one's frustrations or emotions. While it may not directly refer to flatulence, the use of the word "blow" in both idioms creates a parallel between the physical action of releasing gas and the metaphorical action of releasing emotions.

The idiom break wind is a commonly used expression in English that serves as a euphemism for the act of passing gas. While its exact origin is uncertain, the idiom can be traced back to ancient times and is found in various languages and cultures. It is a part of everyday language in English-speaking countries and is used in both formal and informal contexts. However, individuals should be mindful of the appropriateness of using this idiom in different situations. The idiom break wind reflects the human need for creative expressions to discuss taboo topics and demonstrates the universality of certain bodily functions.

Example usage


  1. He broke wind during the meeting, causing everyone to burst into laughter.
  2. The comedian used the idiom "break wind" to create a humorous moment during the show.
  3. She discreetly broke wind in the elevator, hoping that no one would notice.
I am certain about the usage and meaning of the idiom "break wind." It is a polite and indirect way of referring to the act of passing gas or farting. It is often used humorously or in a lighthearted manner.

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