break·​away | \ ˈbrā-kə-ˌwā \

Definition of breakaway 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : one that breaks away
b : a departure from or rejection of something (such as a group or tradition)
2a : a play (as in hockey) in which an offensive player breaks free of the defenders and rushes toward the goal
b : a sudden acceleration by one or more bicyclists pulling away from the pack in a race
3 : an object made to shatter or collapse under pressure or impact



Definition of breakaway (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : favoring independence from an affiliation : seceding a breakaway faction formed a new party
2 : made to break, shatter, or bend easily breakaway road signs for highway safety
3a : of, relating to, or resulting from a breakaway a breakaway goal
b : allowing or having an ability to execute a breakaway breakaway speed

break away


Definition of break away (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to detach oneself especially from a group : get away
2 : to depart from former or accustomed ways
3 : to pull away with a burst of speed

Examples of breakaway in a Sentence


A breakaway faction formed a new party.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Fall: Only one part of the chase used significant CGI, and it’s at the very beginning, when a carriage makes a six-foot jump through a breakaway platform to the ground. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "How They Pulled Off the Chase Scene in 'Robin Hood'," 30 Nov. 2018 Only Turkey recognizes the breakaway north, and has propped up its economy to the tune of 500 million euros annually to cover a budget shortfall. Menelaos Hadjicostis, Fox News, "Turkish Cypriots protest price hikes from Turkish lira woes," 6 Sep. 2018 Quim Torra, Catalonia’s regional president, said Tuesday that while maintaining his pledge to see through the breakaway bid, his immediate focus is on putting pressure on the courts ahead of the trials of the separatist movement’s jailed leaders. Joseph Wilson, The Seattle Times, "Separatists launch ‘autumn of protests’ on Catalonia Day," 11 Sep. 2018 Those struggles have amplified longstanding weaknesses in the rest of the team, where an aging back line, a lack of dynamism in midfield, and a shaky goalkeeping situation have left Argentina looking worryingly vulnerable on the breakaway. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Argentina’s Messi Problem," 25 June 2018 Gaudette then came out of the penalty box to set up Hawkins on a breakaway for a 5-0 lead at 12:37., "Northeastern sweeps past UMass in Hockey East quarterfinals," 11 Mar. 2018 Howard robbed Evgenii Dadonov with a glove save late in the period, and Gustav Nyquist scored an insurance goal on a breakaway at 15:22 when he was sprung by Henrik Zetterberg on what was his 600th career assist. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings persevere to extend win streak, tame Panthers, 4-2," 5 Jan. 2018 Quick-Step hunted down the breakaway to set up Gaviria, who powered his way down the final meters of the 4-kilometer finish — the longest straightaway to conclude a leg on this Tour. Joseph Wilson,, "Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria wins Stage 4 of Tour de France," 10 July 2018 Boston did come close to tying the score at three late in the third period, as Marchand raced in on a breakaway off a center ice face-off with just under three minutes remaining, only to be slashed by defenseman Anton Stralman. Michael Blinn,, "Stanley Cup Playoffs Roundup: Lightning Rebound to Even Series; Karlsson Lifts Golden Knights in OT," 30 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Both Russian and Ukrainian militaries have been boosting their naval deployments around the Sea of Azov since Moscow seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and helped pro-Russian militants create breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine. Thomas Grove, WSJ, "Russia Fires on Ukrainian Military Vessel Near Crimea," 25 Nov. 2018 But a breakaway group of dozens tried to march toward Government House, the seat of Thailand’s executive power. New York Times, "Anniversary of Thai Coup Draws Uneasy Protest and Police Threats," 22 May 2018 For years, Republicans held the state Senate because of a breakaway group of eight Democratic state senators who caucused with Republicans. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: New York vows to continue climate work without Schneiderman," 9 May 2018 Another breakaway group of Democrats, the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference, also supported the Senate's Republican leadership but returned to the mainline Democrats this year under pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "GOP keeps control of NY Senate despite Democrat victories," 25 Apr. 2018 In 1976, a crew of hijackers — including members of a breakaway Palestinian group and two members of a self-proclaimed German revolutionary outfit — seized an Air France flight going from Israel to Paris. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Tomb Raider,' 'Love, Simon,' 'I Can Only Imagine' and more movies in Milwaukee," 15 Mar. 2018 Duke's Zion Williamson goes in for a breakaway dunk against Ferris State. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "There Has Never Been a Basketball Player Like Duke’s Zion Williamson," 5 Nov. 2018 Holding banners and chanting slogans decrying the hardship besetting blue-collar Turkish Cypriots, protesters ended a march organized by a coalition of trade unions near the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north's parliament to voice their disgruntlement. Menelaos Hadjicostis, Fox News, "Turkish Cypriots protest price hikes from Turkish lira woes," 6 Sep. 2018 To this day, many Serbs consider Kosovo a breakaway province, and Serbia refuses to recognize its independence. Ian Bremmer, Time, "The World Cup’s Biggest Winners and Losers So Far—Both On and Off the Field," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'breakaway.' 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 breakaway


1881, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1927, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1535, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about breakaway

Statistics for breakaway

Last Updated

20 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for breakaway

The first known use of breakaway was in 1535

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for breakaway



English Language Learners Definition of breakaway

: having become separate from a larger group, country, etc. : having broken away

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on breakaway

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with breakaway

Nglish: Translation of breakaway for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of breakaway for Arabic Speakers

Comments on breakaway

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


marked by shyness and lack of polish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

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!