Anyone shouts, "give him/her air, everybody" when someone faints. In this case, what does it mean exactly?

  • Is this a direct quote from a source? Why do you think this is a common thing to say when someone faints?
    – James K
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 22:34
  • 3
    @JamesK - It's indeed a rather common expression. One famous instance happened 50 years ago.
    – J.R.
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 22:53

2 Answers 2


Shouting "give him/her air!" when someone faints or collapses, or maybe more commonly, "give him/her some air!" is a clichéd utterance. It means "stop crowding closely around, step back". There is no implication or suggestion that the person of concern is in danger of asphyxiation, at least not because of the bystanders' proximity.


It's simply a way to tell the onlookers to give the person some extra room and space, because too many people have crowded around the person who just fainted.

Sometimes the extra space around a person is called breathing room. According to TFD:

breathing room (also breathing space) noun

  • sufficient space to fit or accomplish something: no breathing room on the crowded airplane

  • sufficient room for easy breathing or movement: moved to the country to find breathing room

It's established, figurative, idiomatic language. When someone has fainted, someone may borrow this expression to ask people to back away, as in, "Give him some breathing room!"

Sometimes the wording will be altered and someone might say, "Give him room to breathe!" or even, "Give him some air, everyone. Please move back."

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