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

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Iranians, driven to desperation by U.S. sanctions and sensing an opportunity in the meltdown of the two nations’ nuclear nonproliferation deal, now understand that Trump is a paper tiger with no coherent approach to them, or much else. Adam Weinstein, The New Republic, "The Curse of Osama Bin Laden," 16 Sep. 2019 The younger gets very upset if someone stands close to him, and has trouble engaging in conversations about anything other than Super Mario Bros. The boys, who attend an intensive autism therapy program at school, have daily meltdowns. Author: Ariana Eunjung Cha, Anchorage Daily News, "The autistic children of sperm donor H898," 16 Sep. 2019 Kay Ivey had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, dead toll bridge, blackface meltdown very bad week. J.d. Crowe |, al, "Kay Ivey’s meltdown metamorphosis," 1 Sep. 2019 While no one is eliminated after only one week (except, of course, Tennessee), Oregon’s second-half meltdown against Auburn doesn’t bode well for the conference’s chances. Joel Boyd,, "College football Week 1 wrap-up: Jalen Hurts tops our ranking of the transfer QB debuts. And is this the year running backs retake the Heisman race?," 1 Sep. 2019 And in a race against climate meltdown, every second counts. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "Crispr Can Help Solve Our Looming Food Crisis—Here's How," 8 Aug. 2019 Nate ends up having a total meltdown, at one point even smashing head head against the wooden floor. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Jacob Elordi Got An IRL Concussion After Filming That “Euphoria” Season Finale Scene," 7 Aug. 2019 At the height of the mortgage meltdown in 2007, 5% of Detroit's homes were repossessed — the highest rate in the nation, the Free Press previously reported. Kat Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "Democratic debates put a national spotlight on Detroit. But candidates ignored its issues.," 5 Aug. 2019 In addition to the ticking clock of the impending plant meltdown, there are also a lot of balls in the air. Dalton Ross,, "Fear the Walking Dead showrunners weigh in on Alicia's fate," 15 July 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.

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

Dictionary Entries near meltdown





melt down



Statistics for meltdown

Last Updated

11 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for meltdown

The first known use of meltdown was in 1956

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!