break off

broke off; broken off; breaking off; breaks 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

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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

Princess Charlotte met and married Leopold in 1816, breaking off an engagement to the Prince of Orange to do so. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Who Was Queen Victoria's Uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium?," 18 Feb. 2019 Robbie Williams was a member of the pop group Take That from 1990 to 1995 before breaking off and finding success as a solo artist. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Theodora Rose Williams Will Reportedly Be a Page Girl at Princess Eugenie's Wedding," 30 Sep. 2018 The American Athletic Conference has sent multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament three times in the past five years since breaking off from the Big East, including four this spring. Michael Lycklama, idahostatesman, "She led Boise State to its first softball conference title this spring. Now she’s leaving.," 27 June 2018 After surviving the Manchester bombing, losing her ex and friend Mac Miller to suicide and then breaking off her engagement (all while experiencing anxiety), Ari is starting off 2019 by looking for the silver lining. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "Ariana Grande Remixes "These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things" For New Song "7 Rings"," 18 Jan. 2019 Such talks were launched in the spring after Mr. Trump first threatened taxes on Chinese goods, but broke off after the U.S. implemented a first round of duties in July. Lingling Wei, WSJ, "China Retaliates With Tariffs on $60 Billion of U.S. Goods," 19 Sep. 2018 They had been kidnapped on March 26th by the Oliver Sinisterra Front, a gang of 70-80 former FARC guerrillas who refused to demobilise and broke off from the organisation. The Economist, "The Colombian guerrillas who won’t give up their guns," 19 Apr. 2018 The female-focused movie takes place after HQ and The Joker (played by Jared Leto) break off their relationship, and Harley, alongside three other women, join forces to rescue a girl from a crime lord. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Margot Robbie Shares First Look at New Harley Quinn Costume for Birds of Prey," 28 Jan. 2019 Most recently, Jodie became engaged to Justin Hodak in January of 2016, but broke off the engagement in March of 2017, after Hodak was arrested three times. Emma Dibdin, Country Living, "All About Hallmark Star Jodie Sweetin's Difficult Journey to Find Love After Divorce," 15 Dec. 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.

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First Known Use of break off

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

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Statistics for break off

Last Updated

2 May 2019

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Time Traveler for break off

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on break off

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with break off

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for break off

Britannica English: Translation of break off for Arabic Speakers

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).


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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