(uncountable,historical, astrology, alchemy, sciences) The atmospheric substance above the surface of the earth which animals breathe, formerly considered to be a single substance, one of the four basic elements of ancient philosophy and one of the five basic elements of Eastern traditions.
"He is very plain, undoubtedly--remarkably plain:--but that is nothing compared with his entire want of gentility. I had no right to expect much, and I did not expect much; but I had no idea that he could be so very clownish, so totally without air. I had imagined him, I confess, a degree or two nearer gentility."
1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 18:
"If I," said Mr. Collins, "were so fortunate as to be able to sing, I should have great pleasure, I am sure, in obliging the company with an air; for I consider music as a very innocent diversion, and perfectly compatible with the profession of a clergyman..."