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

Synonyms for interrupt

Synonyms: Verb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb During Wednesday night’s Vice Presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris sat calmly as Vice President Mike Pence continued to interrupt her., "Trump Does A Trump, Calls Kamala Harris “Unlikable” & A “Monster”," 8 Oct. 2020 Pence did not interrupt Harris nearly to the level that Trump did to Biden last week. Joe Garofoli,, "Kamala Harris vs. Mike Pence takeaways: Coronavirus, ‘I’m speaking’ and California’s cameo," 7 Oct. 2020 Joe Biden said what every American was thinking as the president continued to interrupt rebuttals that had not even fully escaped his opponent’s lips. WSJ, "Biden’s Chance to Take the Offensive," 6 Oct. 2020 If a candidate wants to be overly aggressive and interrupt his opponent, let him. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Let Them Fight!," 30 Sep. 2020 Biden said while shaking his head, after the president continued to interrupt the former vice president. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Biden campaign ramps up messaging on health care with Supreme Court vote looming," 30 Sep. 2020 Some have suggested cutting the mics of debaters who interrupt, cross-talk or exceed their time limits. John M. Crisp Tribune News Service (tns), Star Tribune, "There's no question how our debates must change," 6 Oct. 2020 After Trump continues to interrupt the proceedings, Biden zaps him with a remote control that pauses the president mid-sentence. NBC News, "'Saturday Night Live' tackles Trump's coronavirus woes," 4 Oct. 2020 At the top of the list is controlling the two candidates' microphones and their ability to interrupt one another and the moderator. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Debates commission plans to cut off mics if Trump or Biden break rules," 1 Oct. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for interrupt

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for interrupt

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Interrupt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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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.

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Comments on interrupt

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