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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for meltdown

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Key provisions in the Cares Act are set to expire at the end of July, potentially triggering another economic meltdown unless our sclerotic Senate can find its way to enacting additional relief. Harry Cheadle, The New Republic, "America Has Failed the Existential-Crisis Test," 23 June 2020 The crisis hit Floridians hard, with their personal finances made worse by the weeks-long meltdown of the state's online unemployment insurance registration system. Terry Spencer And Kelli Kennedy, USA TODAY, "Unemployment in Florida hits record high, but peak may be near," 20 June 2020 The meltdown comes at the worst possible time for council. Sharon Coolidge,, "After David Mann walked out of hearing, two of his Cincinnati City Council staffers quit," 19 June 2020 Millions are struggling to stay afloat during an economic meltdown. Medea Giordano, Wired, "A Bird Feeder Will Bring You Joy," 14 June 2020 Bill Ford’s dealt with fallout of 9/11, the 2008 global meltdown that shook the economy to its core and more, but all pales in comparison to crisis the executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. is now facing — fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Carol Cain, Detroit Free Press, "Bill Ford: 'This is my home. We stayed here when others were leaving.'," 13 June 2020 The economic meltdown comes ahead of looming new US sanctions against any entity or country that does business with the Syrian government. Albert Aji,, "Syria’s Assad fires his PM amid worsening economic crisis," 11 June 2020 One circuit can trigger another and another, which can cause an emotional meltdown of anxiety, numbness, depression and hostility which can overwhelm us for hours or days. Laurel Mellin, The Conversation, "Want to stop the COVID-19 stress meltdown? Train your brain," 10 June 2020 Other evidence has also shown that the job market meltdown triggered by the coronavirus has bottomed out. Christopher Rugaber, The Christian Science Monitor, "Glimmer of hope: US unemployment fell to 13.3% in May," 5 June 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of meltdown


1956, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1956, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about meltdown

Time Traveler for meltdown

Time Traveler

The first known use of meltdown was in 1956

See more words from the same year

Statistics for meltdown

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Meltdown.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!