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

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

The attack interrupted the production of 5.7 million barrels a day, more than half of Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production and about 5% of the world’s daily supply. Washington Post, "The Latest: Trump says US ‘locked and loaded’ after attack," 17 Sep. 2019 No previous attack, since the Yemen conflict began four years ago, has interrupted oil supplies. Tim Lister, CNN, "Attack on Saudi oil facility a game-changer in Gulf confrontation," 15 Sep. 2019 The breaks have interrupted service for thousands of residents, forcing them to endure days of boil water orders. Larry Barszewski,, "Fort Lauderdale water treatment plant could fail in major storm, cutting off water to hundreds of thousands of customers," 13 Sep. 2019 Lambert interrupted Underwood's streak by taking the award in 2017. Paul Grein, Billboard, "Female Vocalist of the Year Is 2019's Most Hotly Contested CMA Awards Category," 10 Sep. 2019 In the main house, splashes of marble and hardwood interrupt the whitewashed interiors. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, "Actor Reno Wilson’s cozy compound comes to market in Mount Washington," 9 Sep. 2019 The two sides with opposing views had to listen to each other—without expressing disagreement or interrupting—and then repeat their opponents’ arguments back to them. Maria Danilova, Harper's magazine, "Alternative Medicine," 28 Aug. 2019 The Queen has yet to speak out on the issue; in fact, Johnson's request interrupted her vacation. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "How Boris Johnson Just Put the Queen in an Unprecedented Brexit Bind," 28 Aug. 2019 Seawalls can interrupt natural sand flow, leading to erosion and the eventual disappearance of stretches of public beaches, according to the commission. Julia Sclafani, Daily Pilot, "Agreement clears Laguna couple to appeal ruling against seawall, though other efforts are dropped," 23 Aug. 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.

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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

7 Oct 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 bell tower

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