collapse

1 of 2

verb

col·​lapse kə-ˈlaps How to pronounce collapse (audio)
collapsed; collapsing

intransitive verb

1
: to fall or shrink together abruptly and completely : fall into a jumbled or flattened mass through the force of external pressure
a blood vessel that collapsed
2
: to break down completely : disintegrate
… his case had collapsed in a mass of legal wreckage …Erle Stanley Gardner
3
: to cave or fall in or give way
The bridge collapsed.
4
: to suddenly lose force, significance, effectiveness, or worth
fears that the currency may collapse
5
: to break down in vital energy, stamina, or self-control through exhaustion or disease
She came home from work and collapsed on the sofa.
especially : to fall helpless or unconscious
He collapsed on stage during the performance.
6
: to fold down into a more compact shape
a chair that collapses
a collapsing golf club that can fit into a travel bag

transitive verb

1
: to cause to collapse
buildings collapsed by an earthquake
He knelt for a long time, first watching the bay below, then collapsing the spyglass and settling his hands on his legs in a thoughtful pose.Heather Dunboine
2
: condense
collapse several stories into one

collapse

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: a breakdown in vital energy, strength, or stamina
suffered a mental collapse
b
: a state of extreme prostration and physical depression (as from circulatory failure or great loss of body fluids)
c
: an airless state of all or part of a lung originating spontaneously or induced surgically
2
: the act or action of collapsing
the cutting of many tent ropes, the collapse of the canvasRudyard Kipling
3
: a sudden failure : breakdown, ruin
the collapse of the government
4
: a sudden loss of force, value, or effect
the collapse of respect for ancient law and customL. S. B. Leakey

Examples of collapse in a Sentence

Verb The roof collapsed under a heavy load of snow. The chair he was sitting in collapsed. He collapsed on stage during the performance and had to be rushed to the hospital. She came home from work and collapsed on the sofa. The crying child ran to his mother and collapsed in her arms. The civilization collapsed for reasons that are still unknown. He warned that such measures could cause the economy to collapse. Noun The structure is in danger of collapse. She was on the verge of collapse. The country has endured civil war and economic collapse.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The West Bank economy is collapsing, with many Palestinians formerly employed in Israel out of work. Claire Parker, Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2024 Video Ad Feedback 01:16 - Source: CNN December 1: The truce collapses Alon was reunited with his wife Yarden after her release but the end of the deal between Hamas and Israel meant his sister Carmel was left behind. Bianna Golodryga, CNN, 7 Apr. 2024 His life was cut short when a cargo vessel struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore in late March, causing the bridge where Suazo Sandoval and seven other construction workers were fixing potholes to collapse into the Pataspsco River. Eduardo Cuevas, USA TODAY, 6 Apr. 2024 The bridge collapsed within seconds on March 26 after being struck by the cargo ship Dali, which lost power shortly after leaving Baltimore, bound for Sri Lanka. Lea Skene, Fortune, 5 Apr. 2024 Part of the bridge also collapsed atop the Dali and is pushing the vessel down onto the harbor floor—and in order to remove those pieces, crews first need to lift undamaged containers off the ship, reports WBFF’s Keith Daniels. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Apr. 2024 On March 1, 2024, a packed courtroom watched as Michelle Troconis collapsed in tears after a jury convicted her of conspiring with her boyfriend, Fotis Dulos, to murder his estranged wife. Emily Wichick Hourihane, CBS News, 5 Apr. 2024 The container ship Dali struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge at about 1:30 a.m. on March 26, partially collapsing the bridge, officials in Maryland said. Aisha Frazier, ABC News, 5 Apr. 2024 Still, many older buildings across California have yet to be updated to the latest standards, leaving them vulnerable to damage or collapse during a major earthquake. Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 2024
Noun
The bridge collapse hasn’t caused a surge in marine shipping rates, as some watchers feared. Dylan Sloan, Fortune, 10 Apr. 2024 Fordow now is a symbol of the nuclear deal’s collapse. Joby Warrick, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2024 However, supply chain pressures are building back up because of developments such as ongoing turmoil in the Red Sea, the Panama Canal’s drought, and the Key bridge collapse that blocked the Port of Baltimore. Alicia Wallace, CNN, 10 Apr. 2024 Highway 1 collapse Repairs on Big Sur’s collapsed Highway 1 start this week. Ryan Fonseca, Los Angeles Times, 9 Apr. 2024 After Baltimore bridge collapse, expert says momentary power outage common Photos of the APL Qingdao near the Verrazzano Bridge evoked the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after being struck by a cargo ship nearly two weeks ago. USA TODAY, 8 Apr. 2024 Plus, the city of Baltimore continues cleanup efforts and prepares for the daunting rebuild following the collapse of the Key Bridge. CBS News, 7 Apr. 2024 The symptoms of heart attacks in men are widely known: crushing chest pain, a telling sensation in the left arm, or sudden collapse. Maggie Fox, TIME, 5 Apr. 2024 Following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore last week, the city's 39 year old mayor, Brandon Scott, a Black man, stepped out to address the crisis. Veralyn Williams, NPR, 5 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'collapse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

Latin collapsus, past participle of collabi, from com- + labi to fall, slide — more at sleep

First Known Use

Verb

1620, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of collapse was in 1620

Dictionary Entries Near collapse

Cite this Entry

“Collapse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/collapse. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

collapse

1 of 2 verb
col·​lapse kə-ˈlaps How to pronounce collapse (audio)
collapsed; collapsing
1
: to fall or shrink together abruptly
a blood vessel that collapsed
2
: to break down completely
the opponent's resistance collapsed
3
: to cave or fall in or give way
the tunnel collapsed
4
: to suddenly lose value or effectiveness
the country's currency collapsed
5
: to break down physically or mentally because of exhaustion or disease
6
: to fold together
a chair that collapses
collapsible adjective

collapse

2 of 2 noun
: the act or an instance of collapsing : breakdown

Medical Definition

collapse

1 of 2 verb
col·​lapse kə-ˈlaps How to pronounce collapse (audio)
collapsed; collapsing

intransitive verb

1
: to fall or shrink together abruptly and completely : fall into a jumbled or flattened mass through the force of external pressure
a blood vessel that collapsed
2
: to break down in vital energy, stamina, or self-control through exhaustion or disease
especially : to fall helpless or unconscious

transitive verb

: to cause to collapse
collapsing an infected lung
collapsibility noun
collapsible adjective

collapse

2 of 2 noun
1
: a breakdown in vital energy, strength, or stamina : complete sudden enervation
the daughter's mental collapse through mounting frustrationLeslie Rees
2
: a state of extreme prostration and physical depression resulting from circulatory failure, great loss of body fluids, or heart disease and occurring terminally in diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, and pneumonia
3
: an airless state of a lung of spontaneous origin or induced surgically see atelectasis
4
: an abnormal falling together of the walls of an organ
collapse of blood vessels

More from Merriam-Webster on collapse

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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