: a sudden advance especially in knowledge or technique
a medical breakthrough
: a person's first notable success—often used before another noun
a breakthrough novel
the actress's breakthrough performance
: an act or instance of moving through or beyond an obstacle
a breakthrough in the talks between the region's leaders
a breakthrough agreement
: an instance of passing through a barrier or protection
The ice under the surface begins to deteriorate, increasing the risk of breakthroughs.—Vicki Winger
specifically, medical: infection occurring in someone who is fully vaccinated against an infectious agent
A vaccine breakthrough occurs when a person tests positive for COVID-19 two weeks after being fully vaccinated against the disease … —David Rasbach
—often used before another noun
Two other CDC studies of breakthrough cases at nursing homes showed the vaccines protected residents, even when the virus spread through the homes. —Maura Dolan
… the academy recently recommended that children receive two doses of the chicken pox vaccine, rather than just one, because the additional dose bolsters immunity and may help reduce breakthrough infection. —Maria Raven
warfare: an offensive military assault that penetrates and carries beyond a defensive line
Researchers say they have made a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.
The police have announced a breakthrough in the murder case.
This job could be the breakthrough she's been waiting for.
Recent Examples on the Web
In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration bestowed breakthrough status—essentially, speeding up the drug development and review process—on psilocybin therapy for major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression.—Daliah Singer, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Nov. 2023 Melton is coming off a Gotham nom for outstanding supporting performance, in addition to being named one of the breakthrough actor honorees at the upcoming Celebration of Cinema & Television by the Critics Choice Association.—Clayton Davis, Variety, 14 Nov. 2023 Gerwig has earned three Gotham Awards nominations over her career — one as an actor for her breakthrough performance in Baumbach’s Greenberg, and then as a writer-director with nominations for breakthrough director and best screenplay for Lady Bird.—Tyler Coates, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Nov. 2023 This will give small businesses greater opportunity to achieve breakthroughs in AI technology and commercialize them.
2.—Rhett Buttle, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Michael’s arrest also marks a breakthrough in the Maryville Police Department’s oldest cold case.—Nicole Acosta, Peoplemag, 10 Nov. 2023 Ice Spice is a deserved best new artist nominee after a breakthrough year that included three Top 10 hits and a Taylor Swift collaboration, but the Brooklyn rapper is the genre’s only representation in the big four categories.—August Brown, Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2023 Many of the big breakthroughs in tech over the last few decades have happened because developers have made their tech available to others to use free.—Gerrit De Vynck, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2023 But experts say a walkout isn’t likely now that the union has a blueprint for a contract after reaching its breakthrough deal with Caesars.—Rio Yamat, Fortune, 9 Nov. 2023
In 1993, the album The Chronic (originally released the year before) broke through to hip-hop’s mainstream.—Armond White, National Review, 15 Nov. 2023 Families of Israeli hostages travel to D.C. to plead for release
Biden swiftly supported Israel after Hamas militants broke through Israel’s border on Oct. 7, abducting about 240 people and killing 1,200 people during the attack.—Ellie Silverman, Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2023 After forming Bush in the early ‘90s, the band broke through with Sixteen Stone, and continued to find success before going on hiatus in 2002.—Rachel Desantis, Peoplemag, 10 Nov. 2023 My first glimpse of Mongolia was of rolling hills draped in thin emerald grass, of cloud shadows the size of lakes and of raking beams of morning light breaking through a heavy sky.—Aatish Taseer, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 Taylor Swift’s breakthrough album is breaking through again.—Bychris Morris, Fortune, 6 Nov. 2023 The Bulldogs have played in 24 straight NCAA Tournaments, five times as a No. 1 seed, finally breaking through to the Final Four (and championship game) in 2017 and doing it again in 2021.—Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Nov. 2023 President Biden swiftly supported Israel after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, whose gunmen broke through Israel’s border, killed at least 1,400 people and took about 240 people into Gaza as hostages, Israeli officials said.—Ellie Silverman, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2023 Still, Riley didn’t shy away, hoping USC eventually would break through.—Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 29 Oct. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'breakthrough.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.