breakdown

noun
break·​down | \ ˈbrāk-ˌdau̇n How to pronounce breakdown (audio) \

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
broke down; broken down; breaking down; breaks down

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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The financial crisis which began over a decade ago was based in large part on a broad breakdown in mortgage borrowing. Michael S. Derby, WSJ, "Young Americans Faring Less Well in Credit Markets, New York Fed Report Finds," 2 Apr. 2019 Some analysts say the withdrawal was part of North Korean efforts to pressure South Korea to back its position with the United States more strongly following the breakdown of the Trump-Kim summit. Kim Tong-hyung, The Seattle Times, "Seoul says some N. Korean officials back at liaison office," 25 Mar. 2019 The comments by one of Russia’s most influential state television presenters during his Sunday prime-time wrap-up of the week’s news escalated Russia’s saber-rattling following the breakdown of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty with Washington. ... Thomas Grove, WSJ, "Russia Names U.S. Targets of Nuclear Retaliation," 25 Feb. 2019 It's often released directly into the ocean through the gradual breakdown of larger pieces of plastic, but it can also be released as dust on land. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Researchers Discover Record Levels of Plastic in the Arctic Ocean," 24 Apr. 2018 There are emotional breakdowns and revelations, like those from the son of poor Guatemalan immigrants who fears relinquishing any of his American bounty and from the recent widow reluctant to part with her late husband’s clothes. Pamela Druckerman, Marie Claire, "The Life-Changing Magic of Marie Kondo," 21 Dec. 2018 The main ingredient is deoxycholic acid, a synthetic version of a naturally occurring molecule in the body that aids in the breakdown and absorption of fat. Michelle Gant, Fox News, "'Selfie awareness' has millennials turning to double chin removal procedures," 21 Sep. 2018 Even in this antipathetic context, Aldrich manages to find room for his characteristic intimations of breakdown and approaching chaos. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, "Dance / Film / On Video Joan Crawford shines in five Hollywood classics," 26 June 2018 The predictable victors have led to an increasing number of roster breakdowns and full-fledged team rebuilds by the struggling organizations. Carson Kessler, Fortune, "MLB Attendance Drops to Lowest Average in 15 Years," 15 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Worse, after all of those nights supporting your weary head, traditional pillows start to break down, leaving them lumpy, flat and uncomfortable. Lauren Hubbard, ELLE Decor, "A Beginner's Guide to Making Your Home More Sustainable," 1 Apr. 2019 Between her podcast, newsletter, film projects, and work with 3M, Couric found time to break down the tricks to her trade. Glamour, "The Products That Give Katie Couric Instant On-Air Hair," 28 Mar. 2019 The telecommunications giant is expected within days to officially break down the corporate walls and fiefdoms that have long been a way of life at Time Warner’s HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. units, people familiar with the matter said. Joe Flint, WSJ, "AT&T to HBO, Turner: No More Fiefdoms," 1 Mar. 2019 There are several ways to make the frame easy to break down and reassemble, but the easiest and strongest by far is to install steel bed-rail brackets. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Build Your Own Bed Frame," 21 Feb. 2019 Hamdan recommends her own Shiffa Rejuvenating Eye Remedy which is designed to break down excess heme in the skin and help it be reabsorbed over time. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "How to Get Rid of Dark Circles," 4 Feb. 2019 Roast until cabbage is tender, shallots are caramelized, and grapes are beginning to break down and release some juices, 15 to 18 minutes. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Red Grapes and Cabbage," 7 Jan. 2019 The Sweden Democrats — led by Jimmie Akesson — worked to soften its neo-Nazi image while helping to break down longstanding taboos on what Swedes could say openly about immigration and integration without being shunned as racists. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Sweden election sees gains for far-right, anti-immigrant party," 9 Sep. 2018 And as Colts fans know, defenses tend to break down late when playing from behind. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "What you need to know about Colts vs. Jets," 13 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about breakdown

Statistics for breakdown

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for breakdown

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce breakdown (audio) \

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 How to pronounce breakdown (audio) \

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 How to pronounce break down (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on breakdown

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

WORD OF THE DAY

having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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