break·​up | \ ˈbrāk-ˌəp \

Definition of breakup 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of breaking up
2 : the breaking, melting, and loosening of ice in the spring

break up


Definition of break up (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to cease to exist as a unified whole : disperse their partnership broke up
b : to end a romance
2 : to lose morale, composure, or resolution especially : to become abandoned to laughter breaks up completely, laughing himself into a coughing fit — Gene Williams

transitive verb

1 : to break into pieces
2 : to bring to an end broke up the fight
3 : to do away with : destroy break up a monopoly
4 : to disrupt the continuity or flow of break up a dull routine
5 : decompose break up a chemical
6 : to cause to laugh heartily

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Examples of breakup in a Sentence


Money problems often lead to marital breakups. She's just gone through a bad breakup with her boyfriend. He began drinking heavily following the breakup of his marriage. a couple heading for marital breakup What caused the breakup of the Roman Empire? the breakup of a monopoly the breakup of an asteroid as it hits the Earth's atmosphere


the band broke up when their arguments over money grew too stressful the meeting broke up when all the business for the day had been completed
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In November, Goldman was named as an adviser on United Technologies Corp.’s giant, three-way breakup. Ben Dummett, WSJ, "A Big Year for Deals—and Deal Makers," 30 Dec. 2018 Joe couldn’t win Beck back after a late-in-season breakup or the show would risk contradicting itself. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "You, now streaming on Netflix, tilts the rom-com into postmodern horror," 27 Dec. 2018 After ten years of breakups, makeups, and tons of drama, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are FINALLY married! Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "A Complete Timeline of Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth's Relationship," 27 Dec. 2018 Kinney's troubled character has experienced quite a bit of pain over the years, from breakups to deaths, and some people are wondering if the series—which is now in its seventh season—might be taking things too far. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'Chicago Fire' Shows Severide Facing Death in This Terrifying Sneak Peek," 13 Nov. 2018 According to Essence, the two endured several other breakups and tried long distance for a while. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'This Is Us' Star Sterling K. Brown and His Wife Once Broke Up for the "Craziest" Reason," 17 Sep. 2018 Online bullying was brought up when Whoopi mentioned that Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson was getting attacked after his breakup with Ariana Grande. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'The View' Star Abby Huntsman Got “More Hate Than I've Ever Seen” After Joining the Show," 7 Dec. 2018 Pete Davidson just gave a rare public statement about his breakup with Ariana Grande. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Ariana Grande Just Responded to Pete Davidson’s Instagram About Fans Bullying Him," 3 Dec. 2018 The couple make numerous appearances on each other's Instagram feeds, though many of those photos have since been taken down, likely following their breakup. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Everything You Need to Know About Paris Hilton's Former Fiancé Chris Zylka," 19 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Wood facades break up the monotony of green and stainless steel on doors and paneling. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Come Take a Tour of America's Newest Nuclear Submarine," 7 Jan. 2019 The once happy family breaks up, at least temporarily. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 10," 7 Jan. 2019 Hadid and Malik previously broke up in March 2018 after two years of dating and announced the news with lengthy statements on social media. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Have Reportedly Broken Up Again," 3 Jan. 2019 August 2010 After a few months together, Miley and Liam break up. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "A Complete Timeline of Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth's Relationship," 27 Dec. 2018 The Washington Post’s Balz broke up the suburbs broadly into subcategories, based on their proximity to their urban center, and figured out how well Republicans did in each category. Dylan Scott, Vox, "The suburbs abandoned Republicans in 2018, and they might not be coming back.," 26 Dec. 2018 Four plays later, Bradley McDougald broke up a 1-yard pass from Cousins to keep the Vikings scoreless. Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times, "On Russell Wilson’s worst night, the Seahawks’ new-look defense delivered its best game," 10 Dec. 2018 Rows of pale wooden shutters only barely break up the fortress-like facade. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Alejandro Aravena’s Chilean concrete beauty on the market for $1.5M," 18 Oct. 2018 After four years of dating though, the two broke up in 2009 just after Kristen had finished the first Twilight movie. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Here's Why 'This Is Us' Star Michael Angarano (Jack's Brother) Looks Familiar," 25 Sep. 2018

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


1794, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

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Statistics for breakup

Last Updated

5 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for breakup

The first known use of breakup was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for breakup



English Language Learners Definition of breakup

: the end of a relationship, marriage, etc.

: the separation of something into smaller parts or pieces

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More from Merriam-Webster on breakup

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with breakup

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for breakup

Spanish Central: Translation of breakup

Nglish: Translation of breakup for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of breakup for Arabic Speakers

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