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

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 mom protested, to no avail, which led the boy to a meltdown. Gregory Burnett, cleveland, 6 Dec. 2021 Then came the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, which led to a dangerous meltdown at the country’s Fukushima reactor and malaise in the sector. Tripti Lahiri, Quartz, 15 Nov. 2021 Predictably, Scherzer lasted just 4-1/3 innings and 79 pitches, leading to the bullpen meltdown. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2021 Prior to Evergrande's meltdown, tens of millions of apartments were thought to be sitting empty across the country. Michelle Toh, CNN, 14 Oct. 2021 There was a moment Saturday, just as the latest edition of the Red River Rivalry transitioned from showdown to meltdown, in which all of this dawned on Sarkisian, probably for the first time. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, 9 Oct. 2021 Credit Suisse Group AG is continuing to lose senior bankers to competitors in the wake of missteps including a $5.5 billion loss tied to the meltdown of Archegos Capital Management. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, 6 July 2021 Ten years after a devastating earthquake and tsunami led to a nuclear meltdown in northern Japan, residents are readjusting to places that feel familiar and hostile at once. New York Times, 9 Mar. 2021 Linda, like so many lower-middle class housewives of her era, had little professional agency, leaving her vulnerable to the meltdown of her husband, despite her own fortitude. Chris Jones,, 22 Oct. 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.

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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

10 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Meltdown.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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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
: a very fast loss of emotional self-control

More from Merriam-Webster on meltdown

Nglish: Translation of meltdown for Spanish Speakers

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


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