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 TriMet’s MAX Blue, Green and Red train lines have been interrupted due to switch issue near the Gateway and Northeast 99th Avenue Transit Center, according to a TriMet alert. Emily Goodykoontz | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Major delays for TriMet MAX lines in East Portland," 13 Nov. 2019 Later, another protest interrupted the closing ceremony, this one over one of the festival's sponsors, a mining company called Minera Cuzcatlán, which has been accused by activists of polluting local water sources and violence. Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, ""People Can Be Exploited": How Below-the-Radar Film Festivals Prey on Struggling Moviemakers," 31 Oct. 2019 The reporter interrupted the briefing by reading a statement alleging police mistreatment and obstruction of reporters covering the chaotic demonstrations. Washington Post, "Hong Kong reporter accuses police of violence against media," 28 Oct. 2019 Not surprisingly, the opposition Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, interrupted his party conference in Brighton to call on the prime minister to resign. The Economist, "The Supreme Court puts more obstacles before Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan," 26 Sep. 2019 All these life events can interrupt even the most dedicated friendships. Noah Kaufman, Condé Nast Traveler, "In Defense of Taking the Same Group Trip Over and Over Again," 23 Sep. 2019 In one of the most infamous award show moments of all time, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for best female video, saying that Beyoncé deserved the award Swift was holding. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "Don't Forget: Lady Gaga's '09 VMAs Performance Should Have Been the Night's Breakout Moment," 21 Aug. 2019 Unnatural noises interrupt communication, disrupting migration, communication, hunting, and reproduction patterns for many marine animals. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Marine pollution, explained," 2 Aug. 2019 Vaccine critics continued to interrupt legislative sessions long after Newsom signed the two bills designed to increase state oversight of vaccine exemptions granted by doctors for medical reasons. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Gavin Newsom defends his actions on new California vaccine laws," 16 Sep. 2019 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

17 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Interrupt.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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).


not agreeing with established beliefs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

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!