\ 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

O’Brien broke in with the D’Backs in 2015 and played a combined 36 games over two seasons. Andre C. Fernandez, miamiherald, "Well-traveled former Canes star seeking a return to the majors with the Miami Marlins," 9 July 2018 These reports have broken in the months since former Trump aide Rick Gates agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team in exchange for his cooperation. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Why Trump’s inauguration money is a major part of Mueller’s Russia investigation," 5 July 2018 Of course, Kentucky will be breaking in its own new starting quarterback. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "How Kentucky football can (and can't) beat Central Michigan," 2 July 2018 The kids broke in their new beds before they were delivered to their homes the following day. Emily Bloch,, "Miami Dolphins and Ashley HomeStore surprise local children with new beds," 28 June 2018 Kemp broke in, dove head first, and corralled the catch while tumbling head over heels as his hat left his head. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros use trio of homers to earn win No. 50," 21 June 2018 In April, for example, ground was broken in Tampa on the first hotel that’s planned for a 50-acre commercial project on former industrial land along Garrison Channel. Lara Korte, WSJ, "As Urban Housing Boom Continues, Developers Reclaim Forgotten Waterfronts," 19 June 2018 Boston’s string of eight championships was broken in 1967 when Wilt, now with the 76ers, had a triple-double (29-36-13) to close out the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Ed Barkowitz,, "From Eagles-Cowboys to Ali-Frazier, a quick sampling of Philadelphia sports' first meetings," 12 June 2018 The Visalia Ransacker would typically break in when no one was home and take personal mementos, as would the Golden State Killer when the rape spree began two years later and hundreds of miles away. The Washington Post,, "Georgia cop fired after he ran over fleeing suspect with his car," 3 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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Comments on break-in

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


the setting in which something occurs

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