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

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Synonyms for breakout

Synonyms: Noun

break, bunk [British], 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

For an instant, the Dodgers’ breakout, which the season’s first 10 weeks suggested was inevitable, seemed imminent. Jorge Castillo,, "Dodgers lose Corey Seager and get swept by Angels," 12 June 2019 The breakouts occurred because many judges determined that a common plan had to apply to the same victim, according to prosecutors. Dan Morse,, "Four women say he raped them after they’d passed out. Will a new Maryland law enable all four to testify?," 10 June 2019 On the other side, Isaiah Buggs could have a breakout season. Andy Staples,, "Like It or Not, College Football Is Influencing the NFL," 12 July 2018 The junior linebacker had a breakout season in 2017, recording at least 11 tackles in each of his final seven games to help the Braves to a 9-5 record and a Class 3A state finals appearance. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "High school football: 10 small-school Indianapolis-area players to watch," 9 July 2018 Jimmy Tatro The breakout star from Netflix's American Vandal dated Hannah Montana's Emily Osment years ago. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, "16 Celebs You Didn’t Know Dated Disney Channel Stars," 14 May 2019 But Shanghai’s emerging status works in young designers’ favor, especially Ma’s, who has been able to shine as the calendar’s breakout star. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Ming Ma, Shanghai’s Breakout Designer, Talks His Influences and the Future of Chinese Fashion," 4 Apr. 2019 Kathy Griffin’s mother Maggie became a breakout star on the comedian’s reality show, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. Korin Miller, SELF, "Kathy Griffin Reveals Her Mother Has 'Rapidly Fallen Into the Throes of Dementia'," 4 Jan. 2019 Bella has spoken in the past about her struggles with acne, and she's even been known to share photos of her breakouts on social media. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Bella Thorne Deals with Breakouts by Highlighting Her Freckles," 19 Oct. 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

With a large group of candidates, all with broadly similar messages, struggling to break out of the single digits, Biden’s personality-driven, conservative approach appears to differentiate his brand. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Democrats Are Winning the Battle of Ideas, But Could Still Lose the War," 10 June 2019 With his team trying to break out of a tough stretch at Comerica Park — the Tigers (23-37) have now lost 13 of their last 14 home games — Gardenhire’s evening was a quick one. Chris Nelsen, Detroit Free Press, "In even defeat, Detroit Tigers know Ron Gardenhire has their backs," 8 June 2019 As the citizens of New Ham figure out a way to get back home to their parents and the rest of the world, there was one character that broke out of the pack to help with a significant part of their survival. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Who is Grizz from "The Society" and What is Next for Him in Season 2?," 17 May 2019 Wambach compares women to wolves, encouraging them to break out of fairytale narratives. Jocelyn Silver, WSJ, "At a Critical Time for U.S. Soccer, Abby Wambach Is on a Mission," 15 Apr. 2019 Fans at home didn't miss his musical slip-up either, immediately calling out the coach on Twitter for his less-than-convincing attempt to break out of his country box. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'The Voice' Caught Blake Shelton Admitting a Major Blunder to Kelly Clarkson on Air," 9 Mar. 2019 The young architect, who was making a name for himself designing low-slung, open-plan houses often swathed in brick, broke out of his Midwestern bubble and earned his first East Coast commission. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Frank Lloyd Wright’s Barton House completes $2 million restoration," 2 Oct. 2018 When her works garner huge success, Colette strives to break out of the literal and metaphorical confines her abusive husband yields upon her. Sydney Odman, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Colette' Trailer: Keira Knightley Fights for Literary Ownership in Feminist Period Drama," 11 July 2018 Notre Dame Cathedral was home to a vast collection of art and religious relics that came under threat when Monday’s blaze broke out. Wsj Staff, WSJ, "What Was Saved in the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire," 17 Apr. 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.

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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

19 Jun 2019

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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)

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

break out

intransitive verb
\ (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

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More from Merriam-Webster on breakout

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with breakout

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to take the place or position of

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