in·​ter·​rupt | \ ˌin-tə-ˈrəpt How to pronounce interrupt (audio) \
interrupted; interrupting; interrupts

Definition of interrupt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to stop or hinder by breaking in interrupted the speaker with frequent questions
2 : to break the uniformity or continuity of a hot spell occasionally interrupted by a period of cool weather

intransitive verb

: to break in upon an action especially : to break in with questions or remarks while another is speaking


in·​ter·​rupt | \ ˌin-tə-ˈrəpt How to pronounce interrupt (audio) , ˈin-tə-ˌrəpt \

Definition of interrupt (Entry 2 of 2)

: a feature of a computer that permits the temporary interruption of one activity (such as the execution of a program) in order to perform another also : the interruption itself

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from interrupt


interruptible \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈrəp-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce interruptible (audio) \ adjective
interruptive \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈrəp-​tiv How to pronounce interruptive (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for interrupt

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of interrupt in a Sentence

Verb It's not polite to interrupt. His dinner was interrupted by a phone call. We interrupt this program to bring you a special announcement. Every summer periods of cool weather occasionally interrupt the intense heat.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Now, the test has been canceled four more times and Busaidy is considering taking the test in a rural area where COVID-19 won’t interrupt it. Ryan Nickerson, Houston Chronicle, "Bellaire teens do good deeds as coronavirus creates frustrating senior year," 6 Aug. 2020 This closure will likely interrupt the dog meat supply to neighboring provinces as well. Kelli Bender,, "Animal Welfare Group Shuts Down Dog Meat Slaughterhouse in Cambodia and Rescues 15 Dogs On-Site," 6 Aug. 2020 As a state with the largest disparities in homeownership, that commitment must interrupt the cycles of housing injustice that have scarred our communities for generations. Owen Duckworth, Star Tribune, "Counterpoint: There's still time to stop the eviction epidemic," 28 July 2020 His life had played out exactly as it was meant to, without her there to interrupt it. Seija Rankin,, "Get a first look at Lore, the new novel from The Darkest Minds creator Alexandra Bracken," 8 July 2020 Mero seems to be calling in from a room full of cleaning supplies, perpetually concerned that one of his kids will interrupt the call. Darren Franich,, "Emmys: The time has come to nominate Desus & Mero," 9 July 2020 The rear passengers also have the ability to augment and set navigation destinations—helpful for sharing a destination with the driver without having to interrupt front-seat conversations. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Gets Updated Infotainment, 3D Display," 8 July 2020 Besides, the angry body is always ready to interrupt. Anne Enright, The New York Review of Books, "Wanting Wrong," 6 July 2020 Focusing on a work assignment means leaving children to their own mischievous devices—or, in the case of toddlers, to interrupt you every 30 seconds. Yael Chatav Schonbrun And Elizabeth Corey, WSJ, "Work-Life Conflict Can’t Be Solved—and That’s a Good Thing," 27 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Faced with out-of-bounds readings for the radar’s hardware, each CDU began to issue radar increment and decrement interrupts to the guidance computer—lots of interrupts. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "No, a “checklist error” did not almost derail the first moon landing," 5 July 2019

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1957, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for interrupt


Middle English, from Latin interruptus, past participle of interrumpere, from inter- + rumpere to break — more at reave

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about interrupt

Time Traveler for interrupt

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for interrupt

Last Updated

10 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Interrupt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for interrupt


How to pronounce interrupt (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of interrupt

: to ask questions or say things while another person is speaking : to do or say something that causes someone to stop speaking
: to cause (something) to stop happening for a time
: to cause (something) to not be even or continuous : to change or stop the sameness or smoothness of (something)


in·​ter·​rupt | \ ˌin-tə-ˈrəpt How to pronounce interrupt (audio) \
interrupted; interrupting

Kids Definition of interrupt

1 : to stop or hinder by breaking in Don't interrupt our conversation.
2 : to break the sameness or course of A loud crash interrupted the silence.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on interrupt

What made you want to look up interrupt? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
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!