break·​out | \ ˈbrāk-ˌau̇t How to pronounce breakout (audio) \

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

broke out; broken out; breaking out; breaks 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for breakout

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of breakout in a Sentence

Noun the captives had been planning to stage a breakout at the next change in shift for the guards Adjective The company had a breakout year last year, tripling its profits from the previous year. Verb in the wake of news reports of deaths from the flu, panic broke out, and there was a mad rush for flu shots
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Junior-college transfer Brandin Echols has been a revelation though, and sophomore safety Yusuf Corker has been the defense’s breakout star. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville vs. Kentucky: Here's who has the advantage at each position for Governor's Cup," 29 Nov. 2019 Daniels, who completed his first 11 passes, had a breakout moment in what has already been a stellar freshman campaign but his receivers did their part. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "Sun Devils pull stunner, upset No. 6 Oregon," 23 Nov. 2019 Buttigieg leads in two states prior to debate Forget breakout moments. Chris Sikich, Indianapolis Star, "November Democratic debate: Live updates of Pete Buttigieg's performance," 21 Nov. 2019 The first votes will be cast in the 2020 Democratic primary in less than 3 months, and the 10 candidates on the debate stage Wednesday night were all looking for a breakout moment. Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY, "Democratic debate: Here are the winners and losers from the November match-up," 21 Nov. 2019 Here, breakout star Josh O’Connor talks to about portraying the longest-waiting heir in history and what’s in store for his next act. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The breakout star explains Charles’s investiture, Camilla Shand relationship, and tensions with the queen in Season 3.," 18 Nov. 2019 Vogueworld Shia LaBeouf Continues His Winning Streak of Statement Shoes This year, Shia LaBeouf has been quietly proving himself as a breakout red carpet style star. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Shia LaBeouf Continues His Winning Streak of Statement Shoes," 6 Nov. 2019 About 13,000 curious attendees filled the arena for this year’s event, eclipsing the former record-setting crowd of 9,000 in 2007, when then-candidate Barack Obama had his breakout moment at what was then known as the Jefferson-Jackson dinner. NBC News, "At Iowa dinner, 13 Democrat presidential hopefuls try to find a breakout moment," 2 Nov. 2019 During the debates, each campaign gathers in a side room and nervously watches on a screen, hoping for a breakout moment. Laura Bassett, Marie Claire, "The President Makers," 23 Oct. 2019 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 Authorities said two women were injured when a fire broke out in a rowhouse. USA TODAY, "Bei Bei goes bye-bye, human compost company, Confederate statue whisked away: News from around our 50 states," 21 Nov. 2019 Police said their preliminary investigation revealed that Honey and the victim were watching the LSU-Alabama game when a verbal then physical fight broke out. oregonlive, "Afternoon watching the LSU-Alabama game in Bend ends in shooting," 10 Nov. 2019 Police said Reynaldo Armstead, 27, was at the downtown bar when a fight broke out. Anchorage Daily News, "Man charged with attempted murder in shooting at downtown Anchorage bar," 8 Nov. 2019 Over the weekend, the Diablo winds in and around Sonoma County, where the Kincade Fire exploded in recent days, were on par with what the area saw when multiple fires broke out the week of Oct. 8, 2017. Kurtis Alexander,, "Are infamous Diablo winds responsible for recent wildfires?," 29 Oct. 2019 The fourth- and fifth-grade boys were home when the fire broke out, according to NBC affiliate WDIV. Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News, "Michigan brothers ages 9 and 11, killed in house fire before school," 29 Oct. 2019 Spooky spots: Ghosts are said to haunt the Oriental Theater (formerly the Iroquois Theater) in the Loop area of downtown Chicago, where almost 600 people perished when a fire famously broke out in 1903. Condé Nast Traveler, "8 Most Haunted Cities in America That You Should Visit," 25 Oct. 2019 While most of us are starting to break out their winter coats, Rihanna is stripping down to a bikini—and looking incredible while doing so. Christina Oehler,, "Rihanna Shows Off Her Incredible Abs and Legs in Black Bikini Video on Instagram," 18 Oct. 2019 Derrick McCargo, 50, was not at home when a fire broke out in a vacant row house attached to his home on Oct. 10 in the Easterwood neighborhood of West Baltimore. Catherine Rentz,, "Community leaders sound alarm over fires in West Baltimore vacant homes," 14 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of breakout


1820, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1960, in the meaning defined above


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about breakout

Time Traveler for breakout

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for breakout

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Breakout.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for breakout


How to pronounce break out (audio)

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)

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


break·​out | \ ˈbrā-ˌkau̇t How to pronounce breakout (audio) \

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
\ (ˈ)brā-ˈkau̇t How to pronounce break out (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on breakout

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for breakout

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with breakout

Nglish: Translation of breakout for Spanish Speakers

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).


the study of flags

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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