melt·​down | \ ˈmelt-ˌdau̇n How to pronounce meltdown (audio) \

Definition of meltdown

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the accidental melting of the core of a nuclear reactor
2 : a rapid or disastrous decline or collapse
3 : a breakdown of self-control (as from fatigue or overstimulation)

melt down

melted down; melting down; melts down

Definition of melt down (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to suffer a meltdown : collapse

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Synonyms for meltdown

Synonyms: Verb

break down, break up, crack, flip (out) [slang], freak (out), wig (out) [slang]

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Examples of meltdown in a Sentence


fears that an accident could cause meltdown a company experiencing financial meltdown After a long day at the beach, our toddler had a major meltdown in the car on the way home.


apparently beset by personal problems, the actor proceeded to melt down before startled theatergoers
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Slow steaming, in which ships travel far below their potential speed and so burn less fuel, became popular among carriers after global trade crumbled in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. Costas Paris, WSJ, "Shipowners Seek to Slow Services to Meet Emissions Limits," 10 May 2019 Dodd-Frank was the keystone of Obama’s post-2008 recession measures to prevent another meltdown., "Trump’s trophy case," 15 June 2018 The orange-haired Chase Winovich recovers the fumble for U-M. 12:35: Another special teams meltdown for South Carolina. George Sipple, Detroit Free Press, "Game recap: South Carolina 26, Michigan 19," 1 Jan. 2018 The 2008-09 crisis sparked an economic meltdown that caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and homes. Marcy Gordon, The Seattle Times, "Fed: Some US businesses’ debt at highest level in 2 decades," 28 Nov. 2018 But there is reason to believe that some of the causes of the 2008 meltdown remain unaddressed. Emily Stewart, Vox, "How close are we to another financial crisis? 8 experts weigh in.," 18 Sep. 2018 Salon visits regularly resulted in shattered expectations and full-blown meltdowns in the back of my mom’s car. Alexandra Engler, Harper's BAZAAR, "I Got My Hair Colored Like Jennifer Aniston At An Invite-Only Hollywood Salon," 29 Aug. 2018 All at once the man with the 43 PGA Tour wins, including five major titles — the affable lefty who might be the most popular player with fans — became the guy whose unbecoming 13th-green meltdown at the U.S. Open was the talk of the weekend. Greg Cote, miamiherald, "Phil Mickelson's bizarre U.S. Open breach deserves forgiveness, not scorn. Here's why," 18 June 2018 The son of a Japanese father and an American mother, Ogawa was living in Japan in 2011 when the massive earthquake and tsunami led to the meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Steve Sadin,, "Heath Ogawa's long journey culminates with NCAA diving championship," 16 Apr. 2018

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


1956, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1956, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

24 May 2019

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Time Traveler for meltdown

The first known use of meltdown was in 1956

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More Definitions for meltdown



English Language Learners Definition of meltdown

: an accident in which the core of a nuclear reactor melts and releases radiation
: a very fast collapse or failure
chiefly US, somewhat informal : a very fast loss of emotional self-control

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More from Merriam-Webster on meltdown

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with meltdown

Nglish: Translation of meltdown for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of meltdown for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about meltdown

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