breakdown

noun
break·​down | \ ˈbrāk-ˌdau̇n \

Definition of breakdown

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the action or result of breaking down: such as
a : a failure to function preventing a breakdown of the health-care system
b : failure to progress or have effect : disintegration a breakdown of negotiations
c medicine : a complete loss of physical, mental, or emotional vitality : a physical, mental, or nervous collapse
d : the process of decomposing the breakdown of water into hydrogen and oxygen cellular breakdown
e : division into categories a statistical breakdown of data : classification also : an account analyzed into categories a budget breakdown
2 : a fast shuffling dance also : music for such a dance

break down

verb

Definition of break down (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to cause to fall or collapse by breaking or shattering
b : to make ineffective break down legal barriers
2a : to divide into parts or categories
b : to separate (something, such as a chemical compound) into simpler substances : decompose
c : to take apart especially for storage or shipment and for later reassembling

intransitive verb

1a : to stop functioning because of breakage or wear
b : to become inoperative or ineffective : fail negotiations broke down
c : to fail in strength or vitality her health broke down
d : to succumb to mental or emotional stress broke down and cried
e : to lose one's resolve : give in finally broke down and bought a computer
2 of horses : to severely injure the supporting ligament or bones of the fetlock joint
3a : to be susceptible to or undergo analysis or subdivision the statistics break down like this
b : to undergo decomposition

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Choose the Right Synonym for breakdown

Verb

analyze, dissect, break down mean to divide a complex whole into its parts or elements. analyze suggests separating or distinguishing the component parts of something (such as a substance, a process, a situation) so as to discover its true nature or inner relationships. analyzed the collected data dissect suggests a searching analysis by laying bare parts or pieces for individual scrutiny. commentators dissected every word of the speech break down implies a reducing to simpler parts or divisions. break down the budget

Examples of breakdown in a Sentence

Noun

The factory has had frequent equipment breakdowns. Both sides are to blame for the breakdown in communication. The irretrievable breakdown of a marriage can be grounds for divorce. trying to prevent a breakdown of the health-care system trying to prevent breakdown of the health-care system He suffered a breakdown after his wife died.

Verb

when presented with the pile of files, the first thing he did was to break them down by month, order within the month, and region the enamel of a human tooth will begin to break down when exposed to sugar for too long
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Cambridge Analytica breach happened because of Facebook’s lax oversight of developers and data sharing; today’s issue happened because of another breakdown in communication between Facebook and developers. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "Facebook exposed up to 6.8 million users’ private photos to developers in latest leak," 14 Dec. 2018 While insults on receipts predate Trump’s presidency, his rhetoric has been linked to a general breakdown in civility as well as to a rise in hate crimes. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Racial slurs and fat-shaming insults keep popping up on receipts. Is Trump worsening the trend?," 29 Oct. 2018 The North Korean leadership is well aware that the stakes are high, and that a breakdown in talks with Washington could have dire consequences. Fox News, "AP Analysis: In North and South Korea, 2 views of summit," 19 Sep. 2018 Smoking is thought to decrease some of the nutrients necessary for healthy eyes and potentially cause a breakdown in tear film. Korin Miller, SELF, "7 Things That Can Make Your Dry Eyes Even Worse," 1 Aug. 2018 Passengers get bumped when one aircraft has a mechanical breakdown and the airline substitutes another plane with fewer seats, for instance. Scott Mccartney, WSJ, "The Push to End Bumping Passengers From Flights," 5 Dec. 2018 Actors like Julianne Moore, Kiera Knightly, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are shown in reflective postures, tearful breakdowns, and other stages of grief at losing love. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, "The Five Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in September," 5 Sep. 2018 There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Kitty Donaldson, Bloomberg.com, "May Lets Johnson Off the Hook (Again) Over Criticism of Brexit Plan," 8 June 2018 Midway through the first episode of Aggretsuko, Netflix and Sanrio’s new animated series, now streaming on Netflix, the main character, Retsuko, a red panda, has a complete breakdown. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Aggretsuko on Netflix: Adorable Anime, or Subversive Millennial Messaging?," 1 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That’s interesting, if only because Microsoft’s three business units generally break down like this: Productivity and Business Processes (up 13 percent to $10.1 billion) is where Microsoft Office lives. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's Surface sales soar to nearly $2 billion, though chip shortages are hurting," 31 Jan. 2019 Has the relationship between Prince William and Prince Harry broken down completely? Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Are Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle Really Feuding?," 3 Dec. 2018 Amazon’s official announcement breaks down the subsidies for both locations, each of which will receive approximately $2.5 billion in Amazon investment and 25,000 jobs. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Amazon HQ2 subsidies are deeply unpopular, but far from uncommon," 14 Nov. 2018 Here’s one of his most striking charts, which broke down the white electorate in the House by gender, region, and education: Three clear patterns emerge from this data. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The midterm elections revealed that America is in a cold civil war," 7 Nov. 2018 The deal talks, which could still break down, come after recent consolidation in the fertilizer sector, including the merger of Canadian fertilizer and chemical companies Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. Ben Dummett, WSJ, "Israel Chemicals in Talks to Buy Haifa Chemicals for More Than $1 Billion," 4 Oct. 2018 Monopoly money?), which breaks down to $19,007 an hour. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "Kylie Jenner Makes More Money in 1 Day Than the Average American Makes in 10 Years," 7 Aug. 2018 Sign up for the Backchannel newsletter Science Dot Physics' Rhett Allain breaks down the physical forces that allow electric cars to drive. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "VW's Electrifying Bid to Dominate a Mountain Race," 22 June 2018 The residence has four bedrooms, four full bathrooms, four powder rooms and 11,399 square feet, which breaks down to $759 a square foot based on the asking price. Janet Eastman, OregonLive.com, "The most expensive homes in each of Oregon's counties (photos)," 12 June 2018

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

Noun

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Statistics for breakdown

Last Updated

4 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for breakdown

The first known use of breakdown was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for breakdown

breakdown

noun

English Language Learners Definition of breakdown

: a failure of a machine to function : an occurrence in which a machine (such as a car) stops working
: the failure of a relationship or of an effort to discuss something
: a failure that prevents a system from working properly

breakdown

noun
break·​down | \ ˈbrāk-ˌdau̇n \

Kids Definition of breakdown

1 : a failure to function properly
2 : a sudden failure of mental or physical health

breakdown

noun
break·​down | \ ˈbrāk-ˌdau̇n \

Medical Definition of breakdown

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: the action or result of breaking down: as
a : a failure to function
b : a physical, mental, or nervous collapse
c : the process of decomposing breakdown of food during digestion

breakdown

adjective

Medical Definition of breakdown (Entry 2 of 3)

: obtained or resulting from disintegration or decomposition of a substance a breakdown product of purine

break down

transitive verb
\ (ˈ)brāk-ˈdau̇n \

Medical Definition of break down (Entry 3 of 3)

: to separate (as a chemical compound) into simpler substances : decompose

intransitive verb

1a : to stop functioning because of breakage or wear
b : to fail in strength or vitality
c : to succumb to mental or emotional stress
2 of horses : to severely injure the supporting ligament or bones of the fetlock joint
3 : to undergo decomposition

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