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

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Examples of meltdown in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb apparently beset by personal problems, the actor proceeded to melt down before startled theatergoers
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The unrest has further weakened an already fragile economy and has triggered a political meltdown. Tim Lister, CNN, "A proxy war between the US and Iran just moved a step closer," 30 Dec. 2019 The hair was mostly hidden and tucked under the bucket hats, save for a few face-framing pieces that caused a mild makeup meltdown. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Dior Men's Show in Miami Made a Case for Cyber-Surfer Makeup," 4 Dec. 2019 Tracy Letts essentially steals the movie as Henry Ford II, who has a spectacularly funny and then unexpectedly moving meltdown during and after a GT40 test drive at extremely high speed. Michael Phillips,, "‘Ford v Ferrari’ review: Matt Damon wants Christian Bale behind the wheel. Ford has a worse idea.," 13 Nov. 2019 Wylie’s revelations caused a temporary meltdown in Facebook’s market value and set governments around the world scrambling to more stringently regulate social media, data collection and political campaigning. Billy Perrigo, Time, "'The Capabilities Are Still There.' Why Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Christopher Wylie Is Still Worried," 8 Oct. 2019 Zay Jones had a frightening meltdown following his NFL rookie season. San Diego Union-Tribune, "AP Source: Bills trade receiver Zay Jones to Raiders," 7 Oct. 2019 The nuclear power plant is most associated with Unit 2, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Three Mile Island Has Powered Down," 20 Sep. 2019 The neighboring Three Mile Island Unit 2, owned by FirstEnergy, has been dormant since the 1979 accident that caused a partial nuclear meltdown — the worst commercial nuclear accident the U.S. has experienced. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, "Three Mile Island Unit 1 closes for good, unable to run profitably," 20 Sep. 2019 Tags in her shirt would cause a 20-minute meltdown. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Felicity Huffman’s letter to judge: Text of her ‘bigger picture’ explanation," 13 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for meltdown

Time Traveler

The first known use of meltdown was in 1956

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Statistics for meltdown

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Meltdown.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for meltdown


How to pronounce melt down (audio)

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

Comments on meltdown

What made you want to look up meltdown? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


dull or mediocre

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