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

Mbappé Mania French forward Kylian Mbappé, 19, is the breakout star of this World Cup. Sean Gregory, Time, "32 Teams Entered, 2 Remain. Your Ultimate Guide to the World Cup Final," 13 July 2018 Kylian Mbappe was a breakout performer in France's win over Argentina in the Round of 16, and Uruguay's defense — led by Diego Godin — will be tasked with keeping the dynamic playmaker in check. USA TODAY, "FIFA World Cup: Quarterfinal schedule, TV time and storylines for Friday, July 6," 5 July 2018 Pulisic could have been a breakout star at this summer's World Cup if the United States hadn't crashed out of qualifying last October with a shocking loss to last-place Trinidad and Tobago. Jamie Goldberg,, "As World Cup takes center stage, US Soccer must put failure aside and find a path forward," 11 June 2018 With a cast featuring the likes of Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, and Sarah Paulson, there are many potential breakout stars of the forthcoming Ocean’s 8 press tour. Anna Silman, The Cut, "The Ocean’s 8 Cast All Worship Cate Blanchett," 22 May 2018 Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markel are now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but their ceremony featured an unexpected breakout star. Luke Darby, GQ, "Bishop Michael Curry’s Sermon Stole the Show at the Royal Wedding," 19 May 2018 Guerra was a bit of a breakout performer in 2016, totalying a 2.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 100 strikeouts in 121 2/3 innings. Michael Beller,, "The Best Bets on the Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire," 11 May 2018 Celtics guard Terry Rozier has been the breakout performer in Boston’s first-round series against the Bucks. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Charles Barkley had a pointed response to Eric Bledsoe's Terry Rozier comment," 18 Apr. 2018 Vanity Fair’s Nicole Sperling profiles the series’s breakout performer, French actor Tahar Rahim, who plays Lebanese-American F.B.I. agent Ali Soufan. Rebecca Keegan, HWD, "An Over-the-Top Emmy Season Kicks In," 13 Apr. 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

So understand the party that broke out here and in Panama with that one goal, that one assertion that, yes, this team belonged. New York Times, "From My Seat, Panama Won the World Cup," 28 June 2018 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

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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Learn More about breakout

Statistics for breakout

Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on breakout

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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