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

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Other Words from interrupt


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

Synonyms for interrupt

Synonyms: Verb

break in, chime in, chip in [chiefly British], cut in, interpose, intrude

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Examples of interrupt in a Sentence


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Officials said the equipment was operational when Dutch counterintelligence interrupted the operation. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Seattle Times, "Russia dismisses suspected spy actions as routine Dutch trip," 8 Oct. 2018 That patio was the setting for my worst date at Texas 46, a date interrupted by a guy using a weedwhacker on full blast just a few yards from my table. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "Review: Love or something like it at Texas 46 BBQ," 31 May 2018 Specifically, though, the family is pointing to one moment during the hearing: when Coxey subtly interrupted Virjee's questioning of IMPD Sgt. James Briggs, Indianapolis Star, "City attorney resigns after failed case against officers who shot Aaron Bailey," 23 May 2018 Welington Castillo was conducting a postgame TV interview after Tuesday night’s White Sox win when Yolmer Sanchez interrupted and dumped a bucket of Gatorade over his own head. Paul Sullivan,, "Welington Castillo’s PED suspension a setback for White Sox rebuild," 23 May 2018 That was when a uniformed Border Patrol agent interrupted them and asked for their IDs. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "Watch: Montana Border Patrol Agent Admits to Detaining 2 US Citizens at Gas Station Because They Were Speaking Spanish," 21 May 2018 But there are notations in the script about which syllable to interrupt on, or exactly what moment people speak at the same time. Lawrence Toppman, charlotteobserver, "Richard Thomas (yes, that one) comes to Charlotte in ‘Humans’ form | Charlotte Observer," 30 Apr. 2018 District staff has been working on a new approach to interventionists and academic supports, one that relies less on pulling students out of class for one-on-one help, which interrupts their time in the general classroom setting, Alexander said. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Waukegan District 60 considering 'very large cultural shift' on passing students," 11 Apr. 2018 Late Tuesday night, Houston police officers were finishing a DWI arrest when a woman interrupted them by stealing the cruiser with the DWI suspect in the back seat, according to multiple reports. Heather Leighton, Houston Chronicle, "Houston woman walks out of Memorial Park woods to steal a police car with DWI suspect in the back," 21 Mar. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for interrupt

Last Updated

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for interrupt

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

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More Definitions for interrupt



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.

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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).


a strong desire or propensity

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