break·out | \ˈbrāk-ˌau̇t \

Definition of breakout 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a violent or forceful break from a restraining condition or situation especially : a military attack to break from encirclement

2 : an eruption or inflammation of the skin Because stress can throw your hormones out of balance, it can make normal sebaceous glands produce oil at an increased rate, causing breakouts.— Harper's Bazaar



Definition of breakout (Entry 2 of 3)

: being or relating to a sudden or smashing success especially in comparison to previous efforts a breakout book

break out


Definition of break out (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to develop or emerge with suddenness or force fire broke out a riot broke out

2a : to become covered break out in a sweat

b : to become affected with an eruption or inflammation of the skin break out in hives his face broke out with acne

3 : to make a break from a restraining condition or situation broke out of a slump broke out of jail

transitive verb

1a : to make ready for action or use break out the tents and make camp

b : to produce for consumption break out a bottle of champagne

2 : to display flying and unfurled

3 : to separate from a mass of data break out newsstand sales

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Synonyms for breakout

Synonyms: Noun

break, escape, flight, getaway, lam, rout, slip

Synonyms: Verb

blaze (up), burst (forth), erupt, explode, flame, flare (up)

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Examples of breakout in a Sentence


the captives had been planning to stage a breakout at the next change in shift for the guards


The company had a breakout year last year, tripling its profits from the previous year.


in the wake of news reports of deaths from the flu, panic broke out, and there was a mad rush for flu shots
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Her potent debut feature, Down to the Bone (2004), gave Vera Farmiga a breakout role as a working-class mom fighting cocaine addiction in upstate New York, her rocky personal situation aggravated by the family's nickeled-and-dimed existence. J.r. Jones, Chicago Reader, "Leave No Trace approaches homelessness on the most intimate terms," 11 July 2018 Awkwafina gets a fun breakout role, Rihanna is the essence of cool, but the real comedy dynamo here is Anne Hathaway, playing a persnickety parody of herself. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Your ultimate Fourth of July movie guide: A suggestion for every holiday scenario," 29 June 2018 In other words, even if O'Rourke turns out to be the only breakout star for Texas Democrats this year, his donor base will be available to use during future election cycles. Fernando Ramirez, Houston Chronicle, "Beto O'Rourke is out-raising Ted Cruz. Other Texas Democrats? Not so much.," 10 July 2018 Consider an Over-the-Counter Pill These skin-boosting supplements are designed to lower the incidence of breakouts and promote healthier, clearer-looking skin. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "6 Ways to Get Rid of Acne for Good This Summer," 8 July 2018 However, along with Jarvis, one of the breakout stars this year could come from another player who got time as a true freshman last fall. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football mailbag: How Spartans match up with Buckeyes," 2 July 2018 To get rid of breakouts for good, start by finding the right treatment for your skin type and acne. Kristin Koch, Seventeen, "7 Acne Treatments That ACTUALLY Work," 5 June 2018 That's often followed by some kind of breakout somewhere, either enhanced activity or new eruptive vent. NBC News, "Volcano expert explains the science behind Kilauea's ongoing eruption," 23 May 2018 But with the threat — perceived or real — of an Iranian nuclear breakout looming over Israel and Saudi Arabia, Trump will be hard-pressed to remove any more U.S. troops from the region or spend any less money on hardware to defend those two allies. Heather Hurlburt, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Continues to Rebrand America As Weird and Flaky," 8 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

American Ashley Wagner was a surprise omission from the U.S. figure skating roster after Tennell's breakout performances in Skate America and the national championships. Anchorage Daily News, "Everything you need to know about the Winter Olympics," 8 Feb. 2018 American Ashley Wagner was a surprise omission from the U.S. figure skating roster after Tennell's breakout performances in Skate America and the national championships. The Washington Post,, "Everything you need to know about the Winter Olympics," 7 Feb. 2018 Sparring Partner Next year's breakout Victoria's Secret supermodel, who has a mean right cross. Benjy Hansen-bundy, GQ, "How To Be Better Than Everyone Else In 2018," 7 Feb. 2018 The evening featured a panel presentation and interactive breakout discussion groups aimed to empower singles to share their common experiences and ideas for proactive solutions. Sergio Carmona, Jewish Journal, "South Beach soiree attracts Jewish singles looking for love," 7 Feb. 2018 Johnson said via email, before her breakout weekend. Chadd Cripe, idahostatesman, "U.S. Olympians with ties to Idaho include skier, snowboarders | Idaho Statesman," 6 Feb. 2018 Bartosz Kapustka, a player hyped for his breakout performances for Poland at Euro 2016, failed to play a single Premier League game last season and was loaned to Freiburg for 2017-18., "Extent of Leicester's Poor 2016 Recruitment Made Clear After Last Signings Leave Club," 2 Feb. 2018 Similarly, Haddish’s spirited turn in Girls Trip was one of the breakout performances of 2017. Eliza Berman, Time, "The Biggest Snubs and Surprises of the 2018 Oscar Nominations," 23 Jan. 2018 Camila Mendes is best known for her breakout performance as pithy former mean girl Veronica Lodge on The CW's Riverdale. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Riverdale's Camila Mendes Impersonates the Internet," 18 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Like now, there was back then a political power struggle, with a fight breaking out over who should take command of the ship. Michael E. Miller, Washington Post, "‘Disgraceful’: Trump once criticized Obama for not swiftly lowering the American flag. Now it’s his turn.," 3 July 2018 The Pawnee Fire, fueled by high winds and triple-digit temperatures, has gone on to scorch more than 13,000 acres and destroy at least 22 homes and other structures since breaking out June 23 from an unknown source. Jim Carlton, WSJ, "Giant Wildfires Become Way Of Life in One Northern California County," 1 July 2018 Boston College’s lack of experience could be a problem as the team works to break out of the middle of the ACC pack. Safid Deen,, "Boston College is No. 58 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 30 June 2018 Elba started his career as a DJ in East London clubs before breaking out on the stage, television and in feature films. Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Piper Perabo to Star Opposite Idris Elba in Netflix Comedy Series," 27 June 2018 Neither diagnosis nor vaccination is fast enough for public health workers racing to stop the first few cases of cholera from breaking out into an epidemic. Richard Conniff, Scientific American, "New Probiotic Cholera Vaccine Can Outrace the Infection’s Rapid Spread," 13 June 2018 More than two months into the season, the rightfielder has yet to really get going at the plate after breaking out in 2017. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After breakout season, Domingo Santana still searching for his power at the plate," 7 June 2018 Kaneland’s athletes continued what has become the annual tradition of breaking out their orange uniform tops that date to the mid-1970s. Rick Armstrong, Aurora Beacon-News, "Armstrong: Old meets new and is new again during the Kane County Meet at East Aurora's new field," 5 May 2018 The Building fire, which broke out in the East County community of Dulzura, burned about 10 acres and destroyed one home and one accessory structure, fire officials said. Lyndsay Winkley,, "Number of structures lost in San Diego County fire more than doubles," 9 July 2018

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


1820, in the meaning defined above


1960, in the meaning defined above


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

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Statistics for breakout

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for breakout

The first known use of breakout was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for breakout



English Language Learners Definition of breakout

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an escape from a prison, jail, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of breakout (Entry 2 of 2)

: having, causing, or marked by sudden and great success that comes usually after a time without much success


break·out | \ˈbrā-ˌkau̇t \

Medical Definition of breakout 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: an eruption or inflammation of the skin This is especially true for those who have acne and are desperate to stop breakouts without taking prescription antibiotics …— Stacie Stukin, The Los Angeles Times, 9 July 2007 Because stress can throw your hormones out of balance, it can make normal sebaceous glands produce oil at an increased rate, causing breakouts.Harper's Bazaar, May 1981

break out

intransitive verb
\(ˈ)brā-ˈkau̇t \

Medical Definition of break out (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to be affected with a skin eruption and especially one indicative of the presence of a particular disease breaking out with measles

2 of a disease : to manifest itself by skin eruptions

3 : to become covered with break out in a sweat

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