1 of 2

present participle of break entry 1


2 of 2


break·​ing ˈbrā-kiŋ How to pronounce breaking (audio)
: a style of hip-hop dance in which soloists perform acrobatic moves that often involve touching various parts of the body (such as the back or head) to the ground : breakdancing
… competition—one-on-one battles—has long been a part of breaking.David Woods
Breakdancing—officially called breaking on the program—will make its Olympic debut in 2024.Gregory Strong
Sally Banes' influential Village Voice piece, "Physical Graffiti: Breaking Is Hard to Do," in March 1981—featuring Martha Cooper's photos of breaking and b-boys—exposed New Yorkers, and soon the world, to what had already been a thriving and multidimensional cultural scene.Rachael Carnes

Word History



break entry 2 (in sense "solo instrumental passage") + -ing entry 1; from the performance of acrobatic dances during a cued series of instrumental breaks in pop songs

First Known Use


1981, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of breaking was in 1981

Dictionary Entries Near breaking

Cite this Entry

“Breaking.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

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