break off


Definition of break off 

intransitive verb

1 : to stop abruptly break off in the middle of a sentence

2 : to become detached branches that broke off in the storm

3 : to end a relationship broke off with his business partner

transitive verb

1 : discontinue break off diplomatic relations

2 : to remove by or as if by breaking broke off a chunk of bread

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of break off in a Sentence

the judge broke off court proceedings until after lunch talks between the two sides broke off when one began making unreasonable demands

Recent Examples on the Web

Talks broke off early Tuesday, with Nahles saying many issues still needed to be clarified before the SPD could approve the deal. Jefferson Chase, USA TODAY, "German government crisis: Chancellor Angela Merkel gets migrant compromise," 3 July 2018 Crows from New Caledonia, an island in the South Pacific, can break off pieces of a branch to form a hook, using it to pull a grub out of a log, for instance. Karen Weintraub, New York Times, "Can Crows Make Mental Pictures of Tools?," 28 June 2018 At 6:15, many broke off from marching and moved to block the doors. Detroit Free Press, "Protesters slam GOP on healthcare, wages at Michigan governor debate," 28 June 2018 When spalling occurs on the exterior of the concrete, material can break off and fall onto the road below. Kevin Davenport, idahostatesman, "How a 20-minute fire in the fatal I-84 crash ruined a concrete overpass," 22 June 2018 Despite De Lay Hoya's public statements, talks between the camps did not break off. Rick Maese,, "Last-ditch efforts revive Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez rematch for Sept. 15 in Las Vegas," 14 June 2018 The countries broke off relations when a border war began in 1998, five years after Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia, and their leaders haven't met since signing a 2000 peace deal. Elias Meseret, Fox News, "Ethiopia, Eritrea leaders to meet 'soon' in surprising thaw," 28 June 2018 As a paved road breaks off, tribal government buildings emerge. Marisa Agha,, "As Arizona approaches midterm election, Native Americans look to increase clout," 12 June 2018 In late March, 2000, an iceberg larger than Jamaica, the largest ever recorded, broke off Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "World’s Largest Iceberg Is Melting Away After 18 Years Adrift," 9 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of break off

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about break off

Statistics for break off

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for break off

The first known use of break off was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on break off

What made you want to look up break off? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!