nervous breakdown


Definition of nervous breakdown 

: an attack of mental or emotional disorder especially when of sufficient severity to require hospitalization

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Synonyms for nervous breakdown


breakdown, crack-up, tailspin

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Examples of nervous breakdown in a Sentence

She had a nervous breakdown shortly after her sister's death. He is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Recent Examples on the Web

The good doctor began feeding them to his patients, including a certain C.W. Post, a businessman recovering from his second nervous breakdown. Richard Selden,, "Battle Creek dishes up cereal — with a side of nostalgia — at breakfast-food bash in June," 22 May 2018 His grandmother, who had suffered a nervous breakdown from incessant shelling, ended up in Britain, having been told the U.S. was not accepting refugees who were disabled physically or mentally. Karl Vick, Time, "A Reckoning After Trump's Border Separation Policy: What Kind of Country Are We?," 21 June 2018 Several months later, after a fight with his boss, Scott reportedly has a nervous breakdown and is admitted to Ashurst Clinic. Julie Miller, HWD, "The Secret, Real-Life Love Affair Behind A Very English Scandal," 1 July 2018 Beverly’s on the verge not of a nervous breakdown, exactly, but of resentment. Hilton Als, The New Yorker, "With “Fairview,” Jackie Sibblies Drury Breaks the Fourth Wall," 24 June 2018 In the second half of the story, the soldier-writer has left Esme’s town, gone to the front and suffered a nervous breakdown. Lauren Markham, Longreads, "For Me, With Love and Squalor," 7 June 2018 During a period apart from Elie, Jean-Baptiste suffers a nervous breakdown that results in his being institutionalized. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "L’Enfant Secret is so intimate it feels like a confession," 25 May 2018 Phoenix’s Joe is a leg breaker on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Gary Thompson,, "You Were Never Really Here," 11 Apr. 2018 His wife has a nervous breakdown, Henry ends up with his best friend’s wife, and a drug dealer ends up with Henry’s briefcase. Gege Reed, The Courier-Journal, "Here's what to do in Louisville: Go after-hours at the Speed or dance at a masquerade," 14 Feb. 2018

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

1870, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for nervous breakdown

Last Updated

24 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for nervous breakdown

The first known use of nervous breakdown was in 1870

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More Definitions for nervous breakdown

nervous breakdown


English Language Learners Definition of nervous breakdown

: a sudden failure of mental health that makes someone unable to live normally

nervous breakdown


Medical Definition of nervous breakdown 

: an attack of mental or emotional disorder especially when of sufficient severity to require hospitalization

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Comments on nervous breakdown

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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