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To breathe down one's neck.

Posted by R. Berg on October 15, 2006

In Reply to: To breathe down one's neck. posted by jigs on October 15, 2006

: to breathe down one's neck.
: I want to know the meaning of the above phrase and how to use it in day to day language.

It's used to mean supervising a worker too closely, showing impatience for the job to be done. "The boss makes me nervous, breathing down my neck while I alphabetize these cards." One visualizes the boss standing behind the alphabetizer and looking over her shoulder as she works, although in reality the boss may be somewhere else and phoning frequently to remind her of the deadline. This phrase is informal and slightly insulting. Don't use it in the neck-breather's presence if you want to get along on the job. ~rb