verb \ˈbrāk\

: to separate (something) into parts or pieces often in a sudden and forceful or violent way

: to cause (a bone) to separate into two or more pieces

: to open suddenly especially because of pressure from inside

broke \ˈbrōk\ bro·ken \ˈbrō-kən\ break·ing

Full Definition of BREAK

transitive verb
a :  to separate into parts with suddenness or violence
b :  fracture <break an arm>
c :  rupture <break the skin>
d :  to cut into and turn over the surface of <break the soil>
e :  to render inoperable <broke his watch>
a :  violate, transgress <break the law> <break a promise>
b :  to invalidate (a will) by action at law
a archaic :  to force entry into
b :  to burst and force a way through <break the sound barrier> <break a racial barrier>
c :  to escape by force from <break jail>
d :  to make or effect by cutting, forcing, or pressing through <break a trail through the woods>
:  to disrupt the order or compactness of <break formation>
:  to make ineffective as a binding force <break the spell>
a :  to defeat utterly and end as an effective force :  destroy <used starvation to break the enemy>
b :  to crush the spirit of <brutal methods broke the prisoner>
c :  to make tractable or submissive: as
(1) past participle often broke :  to train (an animal) to adjust to the service or convenience of humans <a halter-broke horse> (2) :  inure, accustom
d :  to exhaust in health, strength, or capacity <broken by his struggle for power>
a :  to stop or bring to an end suddenly :  halt <break a deadlock>
b :  interrupt, suspend <break the silence with a cry>
c :  to open and bring about suspension of operation <break an electric circuit>
d :  to destroy unity or completeness of <break a dining room set by buying a chair>
e :  to change the appearance of uniformity of <a dormer breaks the level roof>
f :  to split the surface of <fish breaking water>
g :  to cause to discontinue a habit <tried to break him of smoking>
a :  to make known :  tell <break the bad news gently>
b :  to bring to attention or prominence initially <radio stations breaking new musicians> <break a news story>
a :  to ruin financially <break the bank>
b :  to reduce in rank <broken from sergeant to private>
a :  to split into smaller units, parts, or processes :  divide
b (1) :  to give or get the equivalent of (a bill) in smaller denominations
(2) :  to use as the denomination in paying a bill <didn't want to break a $20 bill> —often used with into, up, or down
a :  to check the speed, force, or intensity of <the bushes will break his fall> <without breaking her stride>
b :  to cause failure and discontinuance of (a strike) by measures outside bargaining processes
:  to cause a sudden significant decrease in the price, value, or volume of <news likely to break the market sharply>
a :  exceed, surpass <break the record>
b :  to score less than (a specified total) <a golfer trying to break 90>
c :  to win against (an opponent's service) in tennis
d :  to make (a run) in football by getting past defenders <broke a 20-yard run>
:  to open the action of (a breechloader)
a :  to find an explanation or solution for :  solve <the detective broke the case>
b :  to discover the essentials of (a code or cipher system)
:  to demonstrate the falsity of <break an alibi>
:  to ruin the prospects of <could make or break her career>
:  to produce visibly <barely breaks a sweat>
intransitive verb
a :  to escape with sudden forceful effort <the attacker broke from the throng>
b :  to come into being by or as if by bursting forth <day was breaking>
c :  to effect a penetration <break through security lines>
d :  to emerge through the surface of the water
e :  to start abruptly <when the storm broke>
f :  to become known or published <when the news broke>
g :  to make a sudden dash <break for cover>
h :  to separate after a clinch in boxing
i :  to achieve initial success in usually a sudden or striking way <her song broke nationally>
j :  to begin a race <the horse broke poorly>
a :  to come apart or split into pieces :  fragment, shatter <the cup broke when it fell>
b :  to open spontaneously or by pressure from within <the blister broke>
c of a wave :  to curl over and fall apart in surf or foam
:  to interrupt one's activity or occupation for a brief period <break for lunch>
:  to alter sharply in tone, pitch, or intensity <a voice breaking with emotion>
:  to become fair :  clear <when the weather breaks>
:  to make the opening shot of a game of pool
:  to end a relationship, connection, or agreement —usually used with with or from
:  to give way in disorderly retreat
a :  to swerve suddenly
b :  to curve from a straight path <a pitch that breaks away from the batter> <a putt that breaks left>
a :  to fail in health, strength, vitality, resolve, or control <may break under questioning>
b :  to become inoperative because of damage, wear, or strain <the pump broke>
:  to fail to keep a prescribed gait —used of a horse
:  to undergo a sudden significant decrease in price, value, or volume <transportation stocks may break sharply>
:  happen, develop <for the team to succeed, everything has to break right>
:  to win against an opponent's service in tennis
a :  to divide into classes, categories, or types —usually used with into <the rose is broken into several varieties>
b :  to fold, bend, lift, or come apart at a seam, groove, or joint
c of cream :  to separate during churning into liquid and fat
break a leg
—used to wish good luck especially to a performer
break bread
:  to dine together
break camp
:  to pack up gear and leave a camp or campsite
break cover also break covert
:  to start from a covert or lair
break even
:  to achieve a balance; especially :  to operate a business or enterprise without either loss or profit
break free
:  to get away by overcoming restraints or constraints
break ground
:  to begin construction
or break new ground :  to make or show discoveries :  pioneer
break into
:  to begin with or as if with a sudden throwing off of restraint <broke into tears> <face breaking into a smile> <the horse breaks into a gallop>
:  to make entry or entrance into <broke into the house> <break into show business>
:  interrupt <break into a TV program with a news flash>
break one's heart
:  to crush emotionally with sorrow
break one's wrists
:  to turn the wrists as part of the swing of a club or bat
break ranks also break rank
:  to differ in opinion or action from one's peers —often used with with
break the back of
:  to subdue the main force of <break the back of inflation>
break the ice
:  to make a beginning
:  to get through the first difficulties in starting a conversation or discussion
break wind
:  to expel gas from the intestine

Examples of BREAK

  1. She broke the cup when she dropped it on the floor.
  2. Break the chocolate bar into pieces so that everyone can have some.
  3. It is easiest to break a chain at its weakest link.
  4. A chain will break at its weakest link.
  5. The fall broke his arm.
  6. His arm broke in three places when he fell.
  7. A bruise forms when a blood vessel breaks under the skin.

Origin of BREAK

Middle English breken, from Old English brecan; akin to Old High German brehhan to break, Latin frangere
First Known Use: before 12th century



: a crack, hole, etc., that is caused by damage, injury, or pressure

: an opening or space in something : an opening that makes it possible for someone or something to enter or pass through something

: something that causes a change or interruption

Full Definition of BREAK

a :  an act or action of breaking
b :  the opening shot in a game of pool or billiards
a :  a condition produced by or as if by breaking :  gap <a break in the clouds>
b :  a gap in an otherwise continuous electric circuit
:  the action or act of breaking in, out, or forth <at break of day> <a jail break>
:  a place or situation at which a break occurs: as
a :  the place at which a word is divided especially at the end of a line of print or writing
b :  the point or location at which waves break for surfing
:  an interruption in continuity <a break in the weather>: as
a :  a notable change of subject matter, attitude, or treatment
b (1) :  an abrupt, significant, or noteworthy change or interruption in a continuous process, trend, or surface
(2) :  a respite from work, school, or duty <coffee break> <spring break> (3) :  relief from annoyance —often used to express exasperation or irritation in phrases like give me a break (4) :  a planned interruption in a radio or television program <a break for the commercial>
c :  deviation of a pitched baseball from a straight line
d mining :  fault, dislocation
e :  failure of a horse to maintain the prescribed gait
f :  an abrupt change in musical or vocal pitch or quality
g :  the action or an instance of breaking service in tennis
h :  a usually solo instrumental passage in jazz, folk, or popular music
a :  dash, rush <a base runner making a break for home>
b :  fast break
:  a sudden and abrupt decline of prices or values
a :  the start of a race
b :  the act of separating after a clinch in boxing
a :  a stroke of luck and especially of good luck <a bad break> <got the breaks>
b :  a favorable or opportune situation :  chance <waiting for a big break in show business>
c :  favorable consideration or treatment <a tax break> <a break on the price>
a :  a rupture in previously agreeable relations <a break between the two countries>
b :  an abrupt split or difference with something previously adhered to or followed <a sharp break with tradition>
:  breakdown 1c <suffered a mental break>

Examples of BREAK

  1. The tank is reinforced to prevent breaks and leaks.
  2. There was a break in the hedge.
  3. We waited for a break in the traffic.
  4. The fields extend for miles without a break.
  5. We chatted during a break in the game.
  6. All employees are entitled to two breaks during the workday.
  7. We've been working all day without a break.

First Known Use of BREAK

14th century


Next Word in the Dictionary: breakablePrevious Word in the Dictionary: breadwinnerAll Words Near: break
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