\ ˈbrāk-ˌin \

Definition of break-in

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act or action of breaking in a rash of break-ins at the new apartment house
2 : a performance or a series of performances serving as a trial run
3 : an initial period of operation during which working parts begin to function efficiently

break in


Definition of break in (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to enter something (such as a building or computer system) without consent or by force
2a : intrude break in upon his privacy
b : to interrupt a conversation
3 : to start in an activity or enterprise breaking in as a cub reporter

transitive verb

1 : to accustom to a certain activity or occurrence break in the new clerk
2 : to overcome the stiffness or newness of break in a pair of shoes

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Synonyms for break-in

Synonyms: Verb

burglarize, burgle

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Examples of break-in in a Sentence


the burglars broke in by smashing a window he rudely broke in to drop the names of several celebrities that he had met

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Rumors of Gaga and Carino's engagement first broke in the summer of 2017. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lady Gaga Confirms She's Engaged to Christian Carino," 16 Oct. 2018 The scandal broke in June, when Chinese talk-show host Cui Yongyuan accused Ms. Fan of using a yin-yang contract to evade taxes. Dominique Fong, WSJ, "Chinese Star Fan Bingbing Fined $70 Million for Tax Evasion," 3 Oct. 2018 My water broke in the wee hours of my due date and, hours later, with no sign of labor beginning on its own, I was given Pitocin, a drug used to induce contractions. Kavin Senapathy, SELF, "Giving Birth Made Me Question the Informed Consent Process During Childbirth," 14 May 2018 News broke in February that Lander had welcomed a baby in the fall of 2017, causing speculation that Kraft might be the father. Alexia Fernandez,, "Patriots Owner Robert Kraft and Girlfriend Make Met Gala Debut Months After She Welcomes Her Daughter," 7 May 2018 Another bad break broke in the direction of Germantown Academy senior Kyle Garland, one of the nation’s top decathletes. Aaron Carter,, "Neumann-Goretti girls set 4×800 school record at Penn Relays," 27 Apr. 2018 What could be affected by a partial shutdown Every agency has its own contingency plan set up in case of a shutdown, and there are a couple bodies including the IRS and National Parks that could see some pauses or breaks in service. Li Zhou, Vox, "What’s open — and closed — during a partial government shutdown," 21 Dec. 2018 In this case, breaks in the line were swiftly repaired, mirroring quake recovery in other areas of the city. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "How Alaska fixed its earthquake-shattered roads in just days," 8 Dec. 2018 Any evidence of bias or rule-breaking in one case could be used to undermine confidence in the other. Matt Apuzzo,, "Comey cited as ‘insubordinate,’ but report finds no bias in FBI decision to clear Clinton," 15 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'break-in.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of break-in


1856, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1535, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

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Statistics for break-in

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Time Traveler for break-in

The first known use of break-in was circa 1535

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More Definitions for break-in



English Language Learners Definition of break-in

: the act or crime of illegally entering a house, building, etc., especially by using force


\ ˈbrāk-ˌin\

Legal Definition of break-in

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the act or action of breaking in

Legal Definition of break in (Entry 2 of 2)

: to enter something (as a building or computer system) without privilege (as consent) or by force

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More from Merriam-Webster on break-in

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with break-in

Spanish Central: Translation of break-in

Nglish: Translation of break-in for Spanish Speakers

Comments on break-in

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